Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Autumn Olive: Elaeagnus umbellata

autumnolive6-21b.jpg (126632 bytes) Weed Description: A woody shrub that may reach up to 20 feet in height with yellow to cream colored flowers that appear in the spring and bunches of red berries that appear in the early fall.  Autumn olive was introduced into the United States from east Asia in the 1830's and is now an invasive weed of pastures, hay fields, roadsides, and rights-of-way.  Autumn olive is found from Maine to Virginia, and west to Wisconsin.
Leaves:  Alternate, elliptic to ovate in outline, approximately 1 1/4 to 3 inches long, 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches wide.   Upper leaf surfaces are dark green while leaf undersides are covered with   grayish or silver 'scales'.  Leaf margins are often wavy (undulate) and are untoothed. autumnolive7-3b.jpg (169088 bytes)
aolive8-3.jpg (166179 bytes) Stems:  Woody, branching, reaching 20 feet in height.
Flowers: Occur in clusters of 5 to 10 in the region between the central stem and branches (axillary clusters).   Individual flowers are approximately 1/2 inch long, are creamy white to yellow in color, and are also covered with silvery 'scales'. autumnolive4-25b.jpg (111407 bytes)
autumnolive4-25c.jpg (251442 bytes) Fruit:  A red to pink berry, speckled with scales, and also occurs in axillary clusters throughout the plant.
Identifying Characteristics: Woody, invasive shrubs that have a silvery cast and conspicuous red berries.  Autumn olive is similar in appearance to russian olive, but russian olive has leaves that are much more elliptic to lanceolate, and has branches that are usually thorny. aolive8-6c.jpg (91629 bytes)