Family: Elaeagnaceae

Originating from southern Europe, North America and Asia, these ornamental, evergreen or deciduous shrubs are grown for their attrac­tive, often variegated foliage. They have alter­nate, simple leaves, covered with brown or sil­very scales, inconspicuous flowers and occa­sionally small, red fruit. Many of the species have thorns. These shrubs are often grown as screens or hedges but also suit mixed borders.


E. angustifolia, oleaster, wild olive, Russian olive or silver berry, zone 2, is a spread­ing, deciduous tree, to 6 m (20 ft), with spiny branches, willow-like leaves and fragrant flow­ers. It is one of the species which bears fruit, which is large and silvery yellow in colour.

E. pungens, zone 7, the most commonly grown of the species, is an evergreen shrub, to 4.5 m (15 ft), which makes an excellent hedge. It has long, spiny branches and clusters of tiny, fra­grant, cream flowers. The glossy, oval, green leaves have wavy edges, the undersides a silvery colour, dotted with brown scales. Varieties include 'Maculata', an attractive, slow-growing shrub to 2-3 m (6-10 ft), with large, shiny leaves, splashed with yellow in the centre, and 'Marginata', a good hedge or screen plant, with leaves edged in silver.


Elaeagnus does well in any dryish, ordinary garden soil, provided drainage is ade­quate. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate warm to cool conditions. Prune lightly in spring. Propagate from semi-ripe cuttings in summer or autumn, from layers in spring, or from seed which may he very slow to germinate.


There are species suited to various climatic zones.

Eggplant      Elaeis