Learn to Identify Amazing Autumn Olive with Jam Recipe


Ripe Autumn Olive Berries 

It's true that autumn olives (Elaeagnus umbellata) are invasive, originating from East Asia, but there is no doubt about it: They are too numerous to wipe out at this point and are here to stay! Any native plant pusher I've ever been around has scoffed and talked down about this shrub as if the moment this plant arrived goes down as one of the worst moments in American history, no joke. Lots of folks hate this shrub, and I'm here to tell you why they do and why we understand (but still love them anyway).

When we moved to our farm about 8 years ago, there were 2 acres of pristine mowed grass, with over 50 mature walnut and maple trees to mow around. I think we mowed that once and said, "Never again!" to that waste of time. We figured an area let wild, with trails woven through to enjoy would serve our family and our land better. The wind, birds, deer, and tiny critters did most of the work, bringing in a lot of diverse usuals the first couple of years and along with the vigorous black raspberries, the autumn olives thrived right from the start of our absent mower.


About 5 years in, I realized we were getting more than we would like and I came out with a hatchet, cut them back to the ground, and used the branches to make my first wattle fence. Being that the birds love them, these plants spread fast and without human intervention, they can crowd out other plants, ultimately decreasing the diversity. So, if you plan on keeping these in your landscaping, know that you might want to keep an eye on their spread and consider adding a wattle fence of your own at some point.

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