Autumn Olive

Elaeagnus umbellata

Family: Elaeagnaceae
Genus: Elaeagnus (el-ee-AG-nus) (Info)
Species: umbellata (um-bell-AY-tuh) (Info)



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama

Chandler, Arizona

Weismain, Bayern(127 reports)

Oakland, California

San Francisco, California

Dayville, Connecticut

Hampton, Florida

Batavia, Illinois

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cumberland, Maryland

Riva, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Brockton, Massachusetts

Sedalia, Missouri

Barrington, New Hampshire

Plymouth, New Hampshire

Piscataway, New Jersey

Dallas, North Carolina

Franklin, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Waxhaw, North Carolina

Richfield, Ohio

Tecumseh, Oklahoma

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Smokerun, Pennsylvania

Memphis, Tennessee

New Caney, Texas

Jáltipan de Morelos, Veracruz-Llave(45 reports)

Blacksburg, Virginia

Gordonsville, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Manassas, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

Sterling, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Grantsville, West Virginia

Liberty, West Virginia

Rosedale, West Virginia

Pewaukee, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 8, 2020, Beetreeguy from Gordonsville, VA wrote:

Autumn Olive is an amazing honey bee tree, covered in flowers and all kinds of pollinators in April before most other trees are blooming here in the Virginia piedmont (zone 7a). I don't like the fruit because of how astringent it is. It also takes a fair amount of work to pick, being small and not ripening all at once. You could pick a small handful each day for a couple of weeks. I do that sometimes for our chickens, but wouldn't eat them myself unless I had skipped breakfast and lunch. There is a much better-tasting variety called "Amber" that a local nursery carried until they got so many complaints about selling an invasive species. Now they recommend Goumi as an alternative. Autumn Olive is apparently not as invasive here as it is in the Midwest, but is a common sight in treelines bec... read more


On Aug 29, 2017, bstnh1 from Barrington, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

Love this shrub! It grows extremely fast, needs no fertilizer, enriches the soil with nitrogen, thrives in droughty soil, creates a nice privacy screen and the blossoms throw fragrance over a wide area. Berries are edible, but I have not tried them. Yes, I know it's considered invasive in some areas. Birds spread the seeds and it pops up in pastures and along roadsides.


On Nov 9, 2014, malakai from Hampton, FL wrote:

I planted several autumn olives in the swamps of North-Central Florida. Only one survived, but the one that did survive has thrived. It has flowered for at least three years but unfortunately has not produced any fruit. I've heard that these are self fertile, but since this is likely the only potential autumn olive plant in the county, it being self fruitful may just be a myth. Maybe people believe it is self pollinating because where most people are growing them, there are plants nearby, even if there is only one plant on a particular property. Then again, this plant just may not fruit this far south, despite flowering. For the record, I've had its close cousin, the Goumi, produce fruit here.


On Feb 15, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It has pretty silvery foliage and white flowers, but it grows straggly, it is dirty, and it has sharp woody spurs that hurt. Worst of all, it is an invasive plant from East Asia that joins Amur Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Asian Privet, Common Buckthorn, and some other Eurasian invasive plants in infesting open woods and fields in Eastern and Midwestern USA, pushing out better native plants.


On Feb 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This looks better when seen from a distance than from close up. An untidy shrub, it always seems to have shriveled leaves clinging to its base and lower branches making it look unkempt, and it's grudging about releasing them. It always seems to be dropping debris. It's also spiny.

The flowers are fragrant but not showy, as they're more or less the same color as the foliage. Bloom occurs in May (Boston Z6a), when lots of other fragrant plants are in bloom. An allergy to the pollen is common.

This plant doesn't look much like an olive tree. What it and the true olive have in common is an olive-shaped fruit, a silvery cast to the foliage, and a well-deserved reputation for being a "dirty" tree.

I don't consider it a good plant for the home landsc... read more


On Sep 23, 2013, marestache from Morehead City, NC wrote:

I planted a variegated Elaeagnus as a shub in my back yard years ago. It grows fast and has interesting leaves and fruit. It reverted back to the solid green leaves over time. I was good about pruning it for the first years... then I let it go. BIG mistake! It grew like a vine up into a tree next to it maybe 15 feet high. When I finally went to prune it back, I found out it has dangerous backward facing thorny sharp spikes. They gripped the tree limbs as I was trying to pull down the long branches and I got some serious puncture wounds, a very painful job. I will never grow this plant again. If you are looking for a mean perimeter growing fence it might work. They grow fast, wide, thick and tall, and have natural defensive thorns. I'm done with it.


On Sep 23, 2013, greenneck from Paoli, IN wrote:

yes it smells good, but if you care about native ecosystems, do NOT grow this!


On Apr 28, 2013, zorba45 from Richfield, OH wrote:

This is a beatifull plant that resembles the true olive tree. In spring it produces many small white flowers with a strong, frangrant scent.In late summer and early fall, thousands of little red berries ripen with a sweet/tangy taste that is a cross between sour cherries and pomegranate. Many birds love the berries--especially wild turkey. This tough, drought resistent shrub also works as a thick privacy screen in full sun to semi shaded areas. It can also be transplanted very easily.


On Oct 29, 2008, beagelgarden from Defiance, OH wrote:

This is an invasive plant. Please look at the following website:


On Oct 13, 2008, Sunflower1888 from Manassas, VA wrote:

After the city removed a rather large dead tree from our side yard I noticed shoots at the base of the stump. Those shoots have grown into an Autumn Olive shrub that is easily 15' tall. I had never seen one of these shrubs and certainly never experienced their intoxicating scent. The perfume fills our block in the springtime.
Only recently did I discover the identity of my shrub. For years I referred to it as The Honey Bush because of the sweet scent. Bees congregate on the shrub when it is in bloom ( late April/early May ). I have never noticed the shrub bearing fruit and there have been no issues with invasiveness. While the shrub has grown to be quite tall it has not multiplied.
I love this shrub for its' fragrance and its' independence. It flourishes when I igno... read more


On Oct 12, 2008, malsprower from Daytona, FL wrote:

It is hard to believe that some people say that this plant is unattractive, what is not attractive about it? Even tough it is not supposed to be here, it is a very useful plant. It is very gorgeous especially its unique berries with their silver scales. The foliage is also very beautiful. I would love to add it to a flower bed any day. The berries make good pancake topping or to add tart to a smoothie.


On Mar 16, 2007, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I found this shrub to be invading the pine woodlands near my home, displacing native vegetation. It's not very attractive either.


On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.


On Aug 17, 2005, Equilibrium wrote:

Autumn Olive was introduced to the US in the 1830's. It's native to Korea, Japan, and China. We used this plant to stabilize and revegetate road banks and also for strip mine reclamation. We also used this plant in our yards to create food and cover for wildlife although we now know better choices were available. We didn't know as much about this plant back then when we subscribed to these practices. Basically, Autumn Olive spreads aggressively and has caused serious ecological damage just as the Russian Olive has done. They fix nitrogen in the soil which disrupts native plant communities that thrive in infertile environments.

This being said, Elaeagnus umbellata is listed on the noxious weed lists of 45 states. Good news is that young seedlings and saplings can be easily p... read more


On Apr 17, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This bush also makes a wonderful hedge and wildlife shelter. It is a natural feeding station and nesting place for many songbirds. In autumn, the branches are covered with bright red berries which the birds love.


On Jun 8, 2003, Hogwaump from Rosedale, WV (Zone 7b) wrote:

Easy to transplant, very hardy. The fruit are someaht tart when ripe, but quite edible and useful for jam & wine. The fruit contain about 10 times the lycopene content of tomatoes, and efforts are under way to farm them as a health food. It does spread easily, apparently by seeds carried by birds and other animals who eat the fruit whole, so ranchers don't much care for it. Nitrogen-fixing, thrives in poor soils, alkali and salt tolerant. Seeds collected need to be frozen for a month or more and treated with bird excrement or clorox or muriatic acid to weaken the seed coat.