Herb: Elaeagnus

Latin name: Elaeagnus pungens

Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)

Medicinal use of Elaeagnus:

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. The leaves and the stems are concocted and used in the treatment of asthma, cough, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids etc. The seed is used to treat watery diarrhoea. The root is astringent and is applied to sores, itchy skin etc.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)

to February


Habitat of the herb:

Thickets in lowland, especially by the sea.

Edible parts of Elaeagnus:

Fruit - raw or cooked. About the size of a large blackcurrant, though the seed is also quite large. A nice sub-acid flavour when fully ripe but astringent if eaten before then. Can be made into preserves, drinks etc. The oval fruit is about 15mm long. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous. A taste vaguely reminiscent of peanuts. The seed contains 42.2% protein and 23.1% fat on a zero moisture basis.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. Succeeds when planted under trees that have become bare at the base, in time it will scramble up into the tree and fill out the bottom.

Propagation of Elaeagnus:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate freely within 4 weeks, 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. Good percentage. It is best to take the cuttings in June. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, November in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets in lowland, especially by the sea.

Known hazards of Elaeagnus pungens:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.