Flowering Autumn-Olive   9 comments

It’s easy to spot Autumn-Olive in the springtime; for several reasons, the distinctive foliage color, the artistic branching, the amazingly sweet fragrance and a plethora of tiny flowers!

Autumn-Olive flowers:

The endlessly abundant, tiny flowers appear mid-spring, are a dull beigh to yellowish color, with four joined petals.  For such small flowers they have a huge fragrance.

Autumn-Olive tree/shrub:

I’ve seen some waist high and others at least twice my height (5’5”).  The trunks arch and produce arching branches.  Some are loaded with flowers, some have far less, I wonder if there is a fruiting life-cycle in play.

Autunm-Olive leaves:

Well, they look rather like olive leaves; which could explain the name!  The leathery leaves sprout alternately from the stems and are dark green, with silvery undersides.  The twigs, leaves and fruit are covered in tiny silver speckles.


About the size of a small pea, they are not quite round, yet not quite olive shaped, either.  The unripe yellow-green berry ripens to a gorgeous orangy-rosey-red color, in September, and is always covered in silvery specks. The flavor is some-what grape-raspberry-pomegranate like.  They are tangy; get ready to pucker! Each berry contains one, double-pointed, grooved, beighy-yellow seed; and lots of lycopene.

For a detailed description of the Autumn-Olive’s characteristics, history, range and habitats please read Nature’s Garden.  Samuel Thayer’s dedication to foraging is a gift to us all.

The smell of the flowers reminds me, I still have berries in the freezer!  Let’s go make some puree!  For instructions, please see: https://forageporage.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/autunmberry-delight/

Even after being frozen for seven months these berries held up well.  It’s difficult to leave them to thaw and not just gobble them down, now!

Freezing seems to bring about a change in the berries.  When they are pureed fresh, the juice, quickly separates from the puree.  After freezing, there is no separation; and the puree takes on a gelatinous quality.

I’m going to add a few tablespoons of puree to my morning smoothie, for the next few days.  A little live-organic yogurt, a banana, some juice, today it’s pomegranate/blueberry, tomorrow it could be orange or prune, some autumnberry puree, and I’ve got a quick, yummy, very nourishing breakfast!

Doesn’t that look good?  It is!  L’chiam!

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon.


( 1)  Thayer, Samuel. Nature’s Garden. Birchwood, WI: Forager’s Harvest Press, 2010

For more Autumn-olive, Elaeagnus umbellata, Autumnberry info and photos, please see:






9 responses to “Flowering Autumn-Olive

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  1. I taught some kids to id and eat autumn olive berries last fall, and they picked a couple of gallons off three bushes. They loved them, and couldn’t get enough!

    I usually eat them a handful at a time. My only issue with them is that they are an invasive alien – they can get out of hand pretty quickly! So picking them clean is good for the ecosystem.

    • I agree! If more of us ate them, maybe, they wouldn’t become quite so invasive! I have the same dilemma with Japanese Knotweed and Garlic mustard. It’s hard to say speak badly about something that tastes so good!

  2. Pingback: Grab Your Bucket, Baby! It’s Autumnberry Time! « Forageporage's Blog

  3. Thanks for your blogs about autumn berries. I have this in my yard and didn’t know what it was until i read your articles. I was drawn to the tree because there were so many bumble bees and honey bees on it. I have a picture of the flowers if you’re interested posted here http://keziamara.deviantart.com/art/bee-on-autumn-olive-Elaeagnus-umbellata-300674366
    Also, thank you for the informations about eating, freezing and cooking with them. There are enough of those trees to fill my freezer come fall.

  4. Pingback: Springing Into Summer, Along the Wareham River. « Forageporage's Blog

  5. Wow…I just came across the shrub in Farm River state park in East Haven CT, I reached out to a local college to find out what it was …freinds & family told us it was Mountain Laurel, but I knew it wasnt. I have to say the fragrance which come from the flowers is unmatched!! I actually thought it was some sort of wild honeysuckle. We actually took one from the park & planted it in our yard…invasive or not…its a beautiful plant. i cant wait to check out the berries now!!

  6. Hello- My husband & I want to keep our Autumn Olive bush in our yard for a variety of reasons. But we live in CT & the species is banned. It seems to be banned in a lot of states throughout the country…does anyone know how strict the states are when citizens keep these plants on their property? It took me a VERY long time just to find out what it was. I even took it to a local nursery & they looked as a branch I had brought them & told me what freinds & family told us….its a form of Mountain Laurel…I just knew they were wrong, & they were!. We just dont want to get in any type of trouble for having & keeping one.
    To some degree I feel the “authorities just cant think of enough ways to regulate us!! They put these “ban’s” in place but then dont educate …why bother!! 🙂

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