Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Found Autumn Olive!!
Autumn Olive, Elaeagnus umbellata, is considered an invasive plant (from Asia) and subsequently banned in Tennessee. Since I first learned of it, I have wanted it and looked everywhere for it. I am sure it does not play nice with native species and perhaps crowds them out, but, the benefits to this plant are amazing. It grows extremely well and the antioxidants (17 times higher in lycopene than tomatoes) are a cancer researcher's dream. The berries also contain high levels of vitamins A, C and E, and flavonoids and essential fatty acids. The plants are drought tolerant and can fix nitrogen in the soil. I have ordered seeds for this plant twice on Amazon, but I think they are sending me dead seeds because they never germinate.
I had all but given up ever coming across the plant in the nature or of being able to grow it in a pot at home from seeds. So it was to my astonishment that while picking wild blackberries today that I came across groves of these berries! I took pictures and samples and came home to confirm my finding. It was definitely Autumn Olive, and I can not wait to go back and pick them when they are fully ripe.
Autumn Olive plants are rather easy to recognize. The oval pointed leaves are green on the top and silver colored underneath. The berries look like they have been speckled with tiny dots of silver. They taste like sweet tarts. They have one seed in the center. I will share recipes as I am able to use the berries.