Elaeagnus × reflexa
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 × glabropungens Maxim. ex Nakai
Elaeagnus × hypoargentea Hatus.
Elaeagnus x reflexa is a densely-branched, spreading, 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.
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 hybrid of garden origin, Elaeagnus pungens x Elaeagnus glabra.
Not known in the wild.
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Elaeagnus x reflexa is fairly cold hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -15°c when dormant.
Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[
]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[
]. Established plants are drought resistant. Tolerates shade and can be grown under other trees[
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[
Fruiting as it does in mid to late spring, this plant has excellent potential as a fruit crop, it should be fairly easy to selectively breed for improved fruit size and flavour[
The small flowers have a strong, pleasant scent that pervades the garden on calm days[
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 fruit 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 can also be planted in windy gaps under trees in shelterbelts and will in time fill in the gaps and climb into 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[