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 oldhamii is an evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 400cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, and also has potential for medicinal use. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, there are some named varieties.
E. Asia - southeastern China (Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan)
Open area; at elevations up to 500 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Elaeagnus oldhamii is native to the warm temperate and subtropical regions of southeastern China (hardiness zones 9 - 10) and is unlikely to succeed outdoors except in the mildest regions of the temperate zone.
Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[
]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[
This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[
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[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent[
]. The red, globose fruit is about 9mm wide and contains a single large seed[
Seed - raw or cooked. The globose fruit is up to 9mm long and contains a single large seed that can be up to 8mm long[
]. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.
A methanol extract of the leaves has shown analgesic and antiinflammatory properties. The results suggested its value in future development of herbal medicine for the treatment of inflammatory diseases[
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[
An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, 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.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, autumn in a frame[
]. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months[
Layering in September/early autumn. Takes 12 months[