Herb: Oleaster


Latin name: Elaeagnus angustifolia


Synonyms: Elaeagnus argentea, Elaeagnus hortensis


Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)



Medicinal use of Oleaster:

The oil from the seeds is used with syrup as an electuary in the treatment of catarrh and bronchial affections. The juice of the flowers has been used in the treatment of malignant fevers. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
7 m
(23 feet)

Flovering:
June


Scent:
Scented
Shrub

Habitat of the herb:

By streams and along river banks to 3000 metres in Turkey.

Edible parts of Oleaster:

Fruit - raw or cooked as a seasoning in soups. Dry, sweet and mealy. The fruit can also be made into jellies or sherbets. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The oval fruit is about 10mm long and contains a single large seed. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. It is fairly fast-growing and very tolerant of pruning, but is rather open in habit and does not form a dense screen. Because the plant fixes atmospheric nitrogen, it makes a hedge that enriches the soil rather than depriving it of nutrients. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is used in perfumery. A gum from the plant is used in the textile industry in calico printing. Wood - hard, fine-grained. Used for posts, beams, domestic items, it is also much used for carving. The wood is an excellent fuel.

Propagation of Oleaster:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, though it may take 18 months. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Difficult. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months. Root cuttings in the winter.

Cultivation of the herb:

By streams and along river banks to 3000 metres in Turkey.

Known hazards of Elaeagnus angustifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.