Content Detail

A large, loose, open shrub or small tree forming large colonies. The silver-gray foliage and persistent orange berries on female plants add to the appeal. May be difficult to find in nurseries.

  • Family (English) Oleaster
  • Family (botanic) Elaeagnaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early winter, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Irregular, Multi-stemmed, Open, Oval, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Native geographic location and habitat:

Found growing near seasides in Europe, northern Asia, and China.

Bark color and texture: 

Brown, thin stems have silvery scales, while the tips of the branches have thorny spines.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Alternate, narrow, linear, willow-like, silver-green leaves up to 3 inches long. The underside of the leaf has a scaly surface.  

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

This plant is dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Non-showy, yellow-green, female flowers in small racemes appear on female plants in spring (March-April) before the leaves emerge. Male flowers bloom in tiny catkins on male plants at the same time. Wind pollinated.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Bright orange, egg-shaped fall fruits on female plants. Fruit persist on the branches through winter and are used to make teas, jams, and jellies.

Plant care:

A large, suckering shrub with thorny stems. It  grows 8 to 12 feet high and wide, can be grown in tree form, and may reach 20 feet high. Easily grown in average, moist, well-drained, neutral to alkaline, sandy loams in full sun. Prune after flowering to maintain shape. Plants can get unruly. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

None serious but difficult to find in nurseries. Tolerant of wind, salt, cold temperatures and poor soils.


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