Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Elaeagnaceae

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

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A shrub or small tree, originally imported from eastern Asia as an ornamental, and now common to the point of invasiveness in some areas. This plant was growing along a country lane near Cranberry, where it was blooming in the middle of May.

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This species seems not to have been established in the wild in Gray’s time, though there is a native species (E. commutata) farther north. In our area, this is the only species of Eleaeagnus, so Gray’s description of the genus is enough:

ELAEÁGNUS [Tourn.] L. Calyx cylindric-campanulate above the persistent cylindrical or globose base, the limb valvately 4-cleft, deciduous. Stamens 4, in the throat. Style linear, stigmatic on one side. Fruit drupe-like, with an ellipsoid 8-striate stone.— Leaves alternate, entire and petioled, and flowers axillary and pedicellate. (From elaia, the olive, and agnos, the Greek name of the Chaste-tree, Vitex Agnus-castus.)