Autumn Olive

Common Name: Autumn olive
Scientific Name: Elaeagnus umbellata
Origin: East Asia


Autumn olive is a medium to large sized deciduous tree or shrub growing up to 20 feet in height and 30 feet wide. Leaves are simple, alternate, and oval with a finely pointed tip. They grow 1-3 inches long with a dark-green upper surface and silver bottom. The bark and trunk are light gray to brown with numerous white lenticels. Branches are covered with sharp thorns that can reach several inches in length. Creamy-white flowers bloom in summer, ripening to small round, red berries by September.

Autumn olive closely resembles invasive Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)


Autumn olive is commonly found along right-of-ways and on disturbed sites. It will also establish along forest edges or in canopy openings and along riparian corridors.


A prolific seed producer, autumn olive can be spread long distances by birds and other animals that consume its berries. Its ability to fix nitrogen can alter soil chemistry and make site conditions unfavorable for native species that depend on infertile soil. Thick patches may shade out lower growing plants and limit the establishment of native seedlings. Contact with the plants spines may cause minor injury.

NYS Threat Ranking Assessment Score = Very High, 94.00


Do not plant autumn olive. Small seedlings can be hand pulled prior to berry production. Larger populations are best controlled using an herbicide. Glyphosate can be applied as a foliar spray or cut stump treatment, while triclopyr can be applied as a foliar spray, cut stump, or basal bark application.

Distribution: View Map