Herb: Autumn Olive
Latin name: Elaeagnus umbellata
Synonyms: Elaeagnus crispa
Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)
Medicinal use of Autumn Olive:The flowers are astringent, cardiac and stimulant. The seeds are used as a stimulant in the treatment of coughs. The expressed oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of pulmonary affections. 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:
Habitat of the herb:Thickets and thin woods in the lowland and hills.
Edible parts of Autumn Olive:Fruit - raw or cooked. Juicy and pleasantly acid, they are tasty raw and can also be made into jams, preserves etc. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The fruit contains about 8.3% sugars, 4.5% protein, 1% ash. The vitamin C content is about 12mg per 100g. Mature bushes in the wild yield about 650g of fruit over 2 - 3 pickings. The harvested fruit stores for about 15 days at room temperature. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter 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:Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it makes a good informal hedge, succeeding even in very exposed positions. The plants make a reasonable wind-protecting screen, they are about as wide as they are tall. They make a good companion hedge, enriching the soil and fertilizing neighbouring plants. The wood is a good fuel.
Propagation of Autumn Olive: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. Good percentage. 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 and thin woods in the lowland and hills.
Known hazards of Elaeagnus umbellata:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.