Elaeagnus species A
We obtained this plant from Probus Gardens in Cornwall (unfortunately now a housing estate), and they were unsure of its correct name, knowing only that it had been collected as seed in China between the two World Wars. They believed that the name was probably Elaeagnus cordifolia, but this name has never been published.
This plant, which is near to Elaeagnus glabra, has a larger fruit than other members of the genus that we have seen growing in Britain. It also ripens a week or two earlier, usually in late March to mid April in Cornwall[
Elaeagnus cordifolia is a much-branched, widely-spreading evergreen shrub. When growing in the shade of trees it will usually produce long, straggling branches that clamber into the tress, otherwise when growing in the open it is more likely to be up to 300cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
E. Asia - China.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Elaeagnus cordifolia is probably only hardy in the milder 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 dry soils[
]. Requires a lime-free soil[
]. A very shade tolerant plant, it can be grown under other trees and will eventually climb up into them[
This species has an excellent potential as a fruit crop in temperate areas. It ripens its fruit in mid spring, well before any other fruit crops; yields are usually good to excellent; the fruit is of a good size with a reasonable flavour; and it is a very nutritions food[
]. More research needs to be carried out into methods of production and there is also considerable potential for improvement of the fruit[
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[
]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%.
The small flowers are deliciously scented, their aroma pervading the garden on calm days[
Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit must be fully ripe before it develops its full flavour, prior to that it is acid and somewhat astringent[
]. The oval fruit is up to 20mm long and 14mm wide, it contains a single large seed[
Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous[
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 exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. They form a good wind-break, though they are somewhat slow to reach an effective size[
]. They succeed when planted under trees that have become bare at the base, in time they will scramble up into the tree and fill out the bottom[
Seed - 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. Good percentage[
]. It is best to take the cuttings in early summer[
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[