Elaeagnus pungens Fruitlandi * Russian Olive, Silverberry, Thorny Olive
Elaeagnus pungens is a hardy plant for both drought and cold conditions. The leaves are interesting because of their bicolored nature. They are a rather dusky olive on the top and silver on the bottom. This two toned aspect is very eye catching when there is a breeze. Eleagnus punges has small creamy flowers that are fragrant but secreted inconspicuously under the foliage. The fruit are edible and orange, though not on the bush for long in the early spring. I have grown Elaegnus pungens in full sun as well as light shade. Eleagnus pungens can grow quite large, 10 feet or more. I have always kept them in the 5' range and don't really know how big they could get if left to their own devices, but my 5 foot plants put out 5 foot whips. Eleagnus pungens is noted for the spurs under the leaves, hence the common name. The thorns will grow if the plants are stressed and they tend to grow numerous whips if cut hard. I usually hand trim Elaeagnus pungens because the leaves stay on the plant so long. I really dislike looking at the hedge trimmer scars. The hardy nature of Elaeagnus pungens has made itself a pest in some areas so some care should be taken in planting them near wildlands that they don't escape. Eleagnus angustifolia is far more dangerous in this regard and should be avoided in the Southwest as it is rapidly taking over river habitat.
High resolution photos of Elaeagnus pungens are part of our garden image collection.