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Russian Olive

Posted by storey3 NH- Zone 5 (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 23, 07 at 22:54

My sister suggested I plant Russian Olive as a border between my property and a neighbors. It sounds perfect in every way except I have read about it being invasive. What exactly does this mean? Does it send up suckers that can be tamed with mulching and proper attention? Would I be completely irresponsible if I were to plant them?
Thanks for your input.
Oh, one more thing. It appears as though Autumn Maple may be banned in NH but not Russian. Does anyone know if this is this true?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Russian Olive

  • Posted by jant z6MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 24, 07 at 5:48

Yes, it's highly invasive and banned in many states. I lived in CO for 30 yrs and they are rampant there and now cannot be sold or brought in from out of state. They are also VERY thorny and sooo fast growing that they require extensive pruning to keep them from looking very, very messy. Their fragrance is to die for though...They spread by seeds that birds/wind distribute. I think you are wise to question planting them. I wouldn't.

olive tree

  • Posted by jant z6MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 24, 07 at 5:56

I just checked the NH invasive plants list. You are prohibited from planting it. Why did your sister suggest this? I haven't even seen it for sale in years....except some online nuseries. Wouldn't an evergreen be a better choice for privacy? Autumn/Russian are the same thing btw.

Here is a link that might be useful: invasives

RE: Russian Olive

Thanks for replying Jant. Actually Russian Olive is Elaeagnus angustifolia not Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn Olive). The Autumn Olive is indeed banned in NH. Russian is banned in 3 states, CT, CO, NM. Does your reply pertain to both species or actually the Autumn?

I didn't realize they were thorny either.

Thanks for any further feedback.

RE: Russian Olive

Its invading watercourses here in SD and has frequent dieback from canker and twig blight. Half look half dead out here. Not a quality addition to the landscape. I would say if you have a impossible site or one with such high soil salt that other trees wont grow, then it is acceptable.

RE: Russian Olive

From this site

The following is a list of invaders compiled from the Stoddard list, and from one put together by Catherine Schwenk in the year 2000.

Non-Native Invasive Plants Found in NH:
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
Burning Bush ( Euonymus alatus)
Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Goutweed/Bishop's Weed (Aegopodium podagraria
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Norway Maple (Acerplatanoides)
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata)
Phragmites or Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

None of these plants should be newly planted in any home garden, no matter how pretty they are. Any of them found should be removed (though that is often very difficult). Ask your garden center for alternates, and encourage them to find alternates if they are still selling invasives.

RE: Russian Olive

I live in Montana. Russian olive has been a serious problem here. It is spread around by birds that eat the seeds. It uses a lot of water and ends of depriving other desirable plants of the moisture they need to survive. Many plants can't compete with it for water. It isn't a problem for a homeowner but it can be spread by birds from an individual yard into open space areas and create serious problems there. Sorry I can't be encouraging. The good news is there are other wonderful options for a zone 5 setting. It is a great zone to live in.

If you see a hedge that you like in another person's yard you could take a sample in to a good nursery and probably have them identify it for you. A good nursery will also make suggestions for good hedging plants, including deer-resistant ones if that is a problem in your area. Best of luck in finding a very attractive hedge!

RE: Russian Olive

Russian olive may not be banned by state authorities in NH, but it is banned in several states around NH, so it may be more a reflection of political realities of NH than on the behavior of the plant.

It is certainly a disaster of a plant in NJ (z6)and I've seen it pretty rampant in many places in upstate NY (z5) and here in NoVA (z6b or so). If it's a problem in Montana, then its spreading tendencies are probably not just limited to warmer zones.

What is this border area like where you need to plant shrubs? Could another big shrub work (rhododendron maybe? viburnum? a nice variegated sambucus?) What's the deer situation like where you live? One reason I guess Russian olive gets out of hand is that, like multiflora roses, deer don't eat it.

RE: Russian Olive


I live in Montana too, and I've never known Russian Olives being a problem here. In fact, they are terrific additions to many landscaping schemes, even for people who are landscaping huge expanses of wooded land. Our harsh "high desert" climate here in the Bitterroot Valley keeps the tree in check enough so it doesn't get as invasive as it might in moister environments. Although I must agree with you that it is a thirsty tree and it wouldn't serve well to plant it near a flower bed, they do quite well around pines or even weeping willows...those trees really give an olive a run for it's money in the water-right races. This is my experience, anyway.

RE: Russian Olive

Up until a few years ago, the State of New York was including autumn olive seedlings in their wildlife habitat packages. This program was sponsored by NY DEC. Landowners were encouraged to plant them to provide food for native animals. Each of these packages contained about twenty five seedlings, several each of five or six different trees and shrubs. I planted these on my land and now have some large autumn olives, but I've not noticed any of them spreading to new areas.

RE: Russian Olive

I decided to cancel my order on the Russina Olive and find something else to plant.

FWIW, Lesle It's only banned in one state anywhere near NH so I don't think politics has anything to do with it. (though we are the "Live Free or Die" state LOL) I don't know a single person with it anywhere on their property and I have asked many, many. I don't want to contribute to it becoming a problem and won't be planting it.

NH did recently ban the sale of Burning Bushes though.

Thanks for all your feedback. I'm disappointed but want to be a responsible gardener.

RE: Russian Olive

They are a pretty tree, if properly limbed, and they add a unique color to the landscape. I've seen them here and there in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and, as well, in the surrounding prairie area. I'm just a hundred miles north of Montana, but have never heard anything bad about them before. Are they really that hard to control, I wonder.

RE: Russian Olive

Just to add my two cents, since this thread has been revived...

M.hat, I'm guessing the reason that you've seen these things looking tame and docile is because they're growing in a prairie, and not actually getting their preferred level of water. I believe they reach menace status when they are introduced to a waterway.

I have no idea whether or not this tree is banned here or not, and it seems more invasive on the Western slope, but I wouldn't ever plant one as they are so messy. Always dropping little branches, or pieces of bark; in the spring it produces drifts of pollen and then the "olives"! Little hard, crunchy things strewn everywhere for most of the summer/fall.

I also agree that the scent is wonderful, from a distance! I think having them lining my property would be extremely overpowering, and allergy producing!

So Storey, I think you made the right choice even esthetically. Also, if you've got kids, these are no fun to climb! Nasty thorns everywhere!


RE: Russian Olive

My neighbor has a single Russian Olive and they are one of the worst weeds on my property. Hundreds of little seedlings popping up everywhere. Any of the waterways around here or property with high water table is made into a jungle of Russian Olives. They are not a good plant to be around for anyone with allergy problems.

RE: Russian Olive

Russian olives are known here in CO as noxious weeds and nurseries can't sell them. Thank goodness! My neighbor has one in their backyard, and over 1/2 is hanging in my backyard. Messiest tree I've ever seen. I have sprouts coming up everwhere in my garden. if I had a choice, I'd cut it to the ground. Olives everywhere, leaves everywhere. I pretty much despise this tree now.

RE: Russian Olive

I live in the Reno, NV area where much of the "soil" is actually dirt/dust/sand. I have several Russian olive trees (7 in various locations on a 1/3 acre parcel.
I love this plant. Yes it has thorns - not like a rose - needle shaped that can easily pierce non-leather foot wear and all but the heaviest gloves. Once the bush becomes a tree there is little risk of getting "stabbed". Invasive? Yes it is but it is easily controlled.
This tree provides great shade in this very hostile environ. The grey/green color is an added attribute. The small yellow flowers arrive in May and you can smell the tree for blocks. The fruit is supposed to be edible and I am currently researching that because it contains about 3 times more Lycopene than tomatoes.

I am looking for someone to send me rooted sprouts of the Autumn Olive. The health benefits of this red berry are well documented.


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