Russian Olive (State designated weed)

Russian Olive (State designated weed)

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia
  • Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster family)

Introduced from Europe, Russian olive was promoted as a desirable ornamental shade tree. However, when allowed to invade low-lying pastures, meadows, or waterways it can become a serious weed problem.

Growth Habit: Fast-growing tree of moderate size, normally reaching heights from 10 to 25 feet. The seedling is light colored, covered by fuzz and scales, with small oval leaves, almost straight up with a tenacious root. Soon the bark becomes smooth and turns brown or reddish developing long hard tearing thorns. The mature tree has rough brown bark that may hang off in papery layers.

Leaves: Narrow, 2 to 3 inches long, and covered with minute scales which give the foliage a distinctive silvery appearance. Scales are usually more abundant on the underside of leaves.

Stems: Numerous branches, each ending with a single flower.

Flowers: Yellow, arranged in clusters. Fruits, shaped like small olives, are silvery when first formed, but turn tan to brown at maturity. Reproduces by seed or root.

Status: State Designated Noxious Weed, Category 4 Fremont County. Widespread infestation. Control and maintenance of current weed infestations.

Control: Russian olive removal is labor-intensive and typically requires a combination of mechanical and chemical controls. FCWP offers a 40 percent Cost Share on chemicals for controlling this species. Contact your local weed and pest office for treatment recommendations.

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