Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flowers of Autumn

My dad asked me to identify a tree behind his house so I set to sleuthing with some newly developed observation skills. What I saw was a tall shrub/small tree with the following features:

Dull purplish berries covered with small warty splotches that make the skin a little leathery. The berry stems are silvery white. A large seed occupies the juicy, fleshy center.

The twig is a purplish brown, smooth textured and splotchy. The pith is brown (not pictured). I think just one bundle scar. The terminal buds are long and narrow.

The leaf is narrow and pointed, not toothed, slightly undulate, green above and silvery smooth beneath with small dots visible under a magnifying glass.
So, what is it?
I identifiied this tall woody shrub as the Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus unbellata. Although this species can have spiny leaves and some thorns, they weren't observed in this sample. The Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia has some similarities, but the leaves appear to be more narrow and the fruit is green.

All photograps found on the internet - just search for "autumn olive" and you'll find these and more.


Anonymous said...

Are these edible, preservable olives, or merely decorative?

Fiddler said...

They are edible in that you can make jelly out of the flesh like you'd use chokecherries. I think they only resemble olives in their oblong shape and internal pit. I like them because the color and texture of the berries is a little different. The plant is an invasive species.