Elaeagnus ethnobotany feralculture gardening holistic health invasive species local food permaculture wild food

Elaeagnus umbellata: inside out berries?

1. This species of Elaeagnus is NOT invasive in my area. “Invasive” meaning in this case, seeds won’t germinate and grow through natural conditions.

2. There are no objective definitions of “invasive” and “native.” Modern ecology tells us that pretty much all ecosystems are recently evolved aggregates. All species invade other places and have their ecosystems invaded. This is the drive of biological diversity. We don’t like certain species for certain reasons, some rational and others not. This points to the understanding that an “invasive” species is not a scientific phenomenon, but a cultural one.

3. So let’s say Elaeagnus umbellata is considered to be invasive in your area and you do not want it there. Why not?

I hear many people say it doesn’t “belong” because it wasn’t there until very recently. What usually is not be considered here is the drastic changes the land has endured very recently. Now that the land has been catastrophically destroyed basically, does E. umbellata with its soil healing ability and massive edible abundance, really not “belong”? However, if it is your preference for E. umbellata to not grow in your area, I suggest two things: Really get to know what ecological health looks like in your area, and eat the frakking s*#! out them! They’re delicious. And good for you.

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10 thoughts on “Elaeagnus umbellata: inside out berries?

  1. Loved seeing this video. I can’t wait to get some of these planted and producing fruit. I’ve read that these will grow under Walnut Trees – I guess I’ll find out.

  2. Thanks. Actually, I forgot to mention in this video, the Elaeagnus you are seeing are planted in between three large California black walnut trees! They seem to grow amazingly well there, where other plants struggle.

  3. Hey Kevin. My locale (Southeast Michigan) is a breeding ground for Elaeagnus umbellata. Within my neighborhood alone there are easily 400 bushes, some 10-15 feet in height. It sure is a blessing to have such a wonderfully invasive neighbor… We’ll be documenting our harvest of them soon, and our attempt at making “Autumn Olive” wine. Take care.

  4. Actually when a plant is termed invasive I think it refers to a plant that is taking over the habitat of others. It is crowding out or invading the space of other, possibly native species.

    One reason this is not beneficial is that it upsets the natural ecosystem. If one plant is taking over an area, it means there will soon be a lack of diversity within that ecosystem, etc.

    Hope that helps to clarify a bit.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Carla. All plants “take over” the habitat of others to some degree, like I mentioned in the post. Also, when you say, “possibly native species”, again, this is not a scientific definition. This is a preference we have.

    Also, the cases where so called invasive species displace “native species” are actually the exception not the norm. Most of these larger ecosystems changes occur because of pollutants, massive habitat destruction, and a tremendous 200+ year assault by modern humans on what is considered “native.” In most cases where “invasive” species are named as the cause, it is like coming to a dead horse in the road and saying the vultures killed it.

  6. Now everyone is talking about the American economy and eclections, nice to read something different. Eugene

  7. the symbionic relationship between the autumn olive (eleagnus spp) and black walnut (juglans nigra) builds yearly growth that veneer makers prize highly. on site assessments back in the 80’s, we’d recommend planting members of the eleagnus family (gumi for the timid) around their black walnuts as their college tuition plan. don’t know how those figures would work out now. maybe more like, put the tuition into land and collaboratively design and integrate your systems so we can have a permanent agriculture. like “How Cuba Survived Peak Oil,” F. H. King’s Farmers of Forty Centuries affirms simplicity and survival. Great to “meet” you, we’re working on updating http://www.sustainableagriculture.org and will delight in linking. anon.

  8. Kevin –

    I searched the local nurseries and they all tell me they have no source. Where can I get Elaeagnus umbellata in 5 gal or 1 gal?
    I’m in No Cal and I am looking to buy a couple.

    Thanks – Denny

  9. You can buy it at burntridgenursery.com. OR goumi, E. multiflora, through forestfarm.com. Tell them they owe me an affiliate cut if you buy it from them. (kidding.)

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