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Elaeagnaceae, Elaeagnus ebbingei, Oleaster, Silverberry

February 19, 2010

Apparently this is a very useful and highly versatile plant. I’ve just recently become acquainted with it working in Montenegro.

The plant is nitrogen fixing, meaning its roots have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria which form nodules on the roots of the plant and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is used by the plant itself for its own growth, however some of the nitrogen is also available for plants growing nearby. Thus, planting E. ebbingei near other food crops can improve growth and increase productivity.

Flowers are inconspicuous but emit a very agreeable aroma. The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of protein and fats. The fruit is edible, somewhat astringent until fully ripe, then very good. Fruit will grow to be 3 cm long by 1 cm wide when ripe.

Elaeagnus is very wind tolerant and can be utilized as a superior windbreak. It is also highly salt tolerant. It can be heavily pruned as a hedge or let to grow freely, reaching 5 m in height.

Reportedly, current research indicates that consumption of the fruit greatly reduces the incidence of cancer in humans, not only that but the compounds in the fruit are possibly capable of slowing or even reversing the growth of cancers that are already in the body.

In Montenegro the fruit ripens in the winter when most other perennial food crops are dormant.

The photo below shows immature fruit. I’ll upload one of the mature fruit. I’ll try to find more info.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2010 10:08:29 pm

    I have 2 Elaeagnus , I think latifolia , the underside of the leaves have a beautiful silver shine , hasn’t fruited yet.

    • February 20, 2010 10:08:02 am

      Interesting. How old are they? I’m curious to know what the E. ebbingei will look like when mature. The ones I’m working with are still chest high, but already bearing pretty heavily.

  2. Dan S. permalink
    December 13, 2010 10:08:57 pm

    I think the fruits probably could reduce your chance of getting cancer (in much the same way that many fruits, especially ones with benifical pigments, do). I really doubt it can shrink existing tumors…

    This genus has been investigated because many members have fruits very high in lycopene (the red colorant in tomato that is good for you). On the minus side some also have saponins (at least some of which one shouldn’t get too much of).

    The big downside with this genus is they are supposedly hideously invasive.

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