Herb: Elaeagnus

Latin name: Elaeagnus x ebbingei

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.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

to January


Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Elaeagnus:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A reasonable size, it is about 20mm long and 13mm wide although it does have a large seed. The fully ripe fruit has a very rich flavour and makes pleasant tasting with a slight acidity. The fruit should be deep red in colour and very soft when it is fully ripe, otherwise it will be astringent. The flavour improves further if the fruit is stored for a day or two after being picked. The fruit ripens intermittently over a period of about 6 weeks from early to mid April until May. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous. The taste is vaguely like peanuts.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a hedge in very exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. The plants provide a very good protection from the wind, they are very resistant to damage by salt winds and are also tolerant of regular trimming. They have a strong vigorous growth and are faster growing than E. macrophylla. Because they fix atmospheric nitrogen, they make good companion plants and improve the growth of neighbouring species. They can be planted in the line of an old shelterbelt of trees that is becoming bare at the base and will in time fill up the empty spaces and climb into the bottom parts of the trees.

Propagation of Elaeagnus:

Seed - this is a hybrid and it will not breed true from seed. If this is not a problem, then the seed is 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. Rather slow, but you usually get a good percentage rooting. June is the best time to take cuttings. 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:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Elaeagnus x ebbingei:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.