Random Plant: Autumn olive

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 11/18/2012 at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark near Swanton, Ohio.

I come across autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) almost everywhere I go here in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. Most of the plants I see are young single-stemmed individuals like the one shown above. Sometimes I also see older multi-stemmed shrubs:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 09/02/2012 at Waterloo State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Once in a while I find one that has attained the size of a small tree:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 11/18/2012 at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark near Swanton, Ohio.

This plant features alternate, simple, entire leaves that are green on their upper sides:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 11/18/2012 at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark near Swanton, Ohio.

The undersides of the leaves appear silvery thanks to scales that cover their surfaces:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 09/23/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

The reddish twigs are also covered in scales, giving them a shiny appearance:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 11/18/2012 at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark near Swanton, Ohio.

Round red fruit appear in August and September, and they too are speckled with scales:

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata, Elaeagnaceae) photographed 08/18/2012 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Autumn olive was introduced to the United States from Asia in the 1830s. Originally planted as an ornamental and for shelterbelts and mine reclamation, it has proven to be highly adaptable and invasive. It produces large amounts of fruit that are readily eaten by birds, who spread the seeds far and wide in their droppings. Once introduced to a new area, this plant can establish itself in a wide variety of conditions and outcompete native plants for resources. I most often find it near forest margins and along trails and roadways, but it can be found almost anywhere in its rapidly-expanding North American range.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Random Plant and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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