Elaeagnus × ebbingei
Many taxa in this genus are separated only by quantitative characters, and better information on population variation is likely to lead to a significant reduction in the number of species recognized. Indeed, recent studies (Du, Fl. Yunnan. 12: 749-776. 2006) suggest that some species of Elaeagnus should be combined[
Elaeagnus × nikaii Nakai
Elaeagnus × submacrophylla Servett.
Common Name: Elaeagnus
Elaeagnus x ebbingei is a much-branched, evergreen shrub. When growing in the shade of trees, the plant will often produce long, scrambling shoots and clamber into the trees, though when growing in the open it is usually no more than 3 - 4 metres tall.
Widely grown as an ornamental in gardens, especially as a hedge, the plant also provides an edible fruit and seed in the spring. The plant has excellent potential as a fruit crop.
A garden hybrid, probably Elaeagnus macrophylla x Elaeagnus pungens or Elaeagnus x. Reflexa
Not known in the wild.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Elaeagnus ebbingei is fairly cold hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when dormant. Although usually evergreen, it can be deciduous in very cold winters[
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[
]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[
]. A drought resistant plant once established, it can be grown on top of Cornish hedges (drystone walls with earth between two vertical layers of stones). It is very tolerant of shade and grows well under trees[
]. Plants are very tolerant of maritime exposure, growing well right by the coast[
Fruiting as it does in middle to late spring, this plant has excellent potential as a fruit crop in the temperate zone. The fruit is of a reasonable size and when fully ripe is very acceptable for dessert[
]. It should be fairly easy to selectively breed for improved fruit size and flavour[
Not all plants bear many fruits, though many specimens have been seen that produce very heavy crops on a regular basis[
]. Since this is a hybrid species, yields may be improved by growing a selection of cultivars or one of the parent plants nearby for cross pollination. Elaeagnus pungens is perhaps the best candidate for this and its cultivar Elaeagnus pungens 'Variegata' has been seen on a number of occasions with good crops of fruit next to Elaeagnus x ebbingei plants that are also laden with fruit[
]. The cultivar Elaeagnus x ebbingei 'Gilt Edge' is also probably a good pollinator[
]. Other cultivars worth looking at are 'Salcombe Seedling', which is said to flower more abundantly than the type[
] and 'Limelight', which has been seen with a good crop of fruits even on small bushes[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%.
Plants produce very aromatic flowers in late autumn and early winter[
This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[
Sometimes whole branches die out for no apparent reason. This happens most frequently when it is grafted onto Elaeagnus multiflora[
]. These branches should be removed from the plant.
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. A reasonable size, it is about 20mm long and 13mm wide although it does have a large seed[
]. The fully ripe fruit has a very rich flavour and makes pleasant tasting with a slight acidity[
]. The fruit should be deep red in colour and very soft when it is fully ripe, otherwise it will be astringent[
]. The flavour improves further if the fruit is stored for a day or two after being picked. The fruit ripens intermittently over a period of about 6 weeks from early to mid April until May[
Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous[
]. The taste is vaguely like peanuts[
The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[
Plants can be grown as a hedge in very exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. The plants provide a very good protection from the wind, they are very resistant to damage by salt winds and are also tolerant of regular trimming[
]. They have a strong vigorous growth and are faster growing than E. macrophylla[
]. Because they fix atmospheric nitrogen, they make good companion plants and improve the growth of neighbouring species[
]. They can be planted in the line of an old shelterbelt of trees that is becoming bare at the base and will in time fill up the empty spaces and climb into the bottom parts of the trees[
An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%.
Seed - this is a hybrid and it will not breed true from seed. If this is not a problem, then the seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. It should germinate freely within 4 weeks, though it may take 18 months[
]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help[
]. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame. Rather slow, but you usually get a good percentage rooting[
]. Early summer is the best time to take cuttings[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, late autumn in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage[
Layering in September/early autumn. Takes 12 months[