An incredibly delicious invasive shrub may be living in your backyard. In fact, it may be thriving.
This shrub goes by the name autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), and before you do everything in your power to cut, burn, poison, curse, disparage, denigrate, and belittle this resilient rebel rouser, consider this:
Autumn olive is nutritious. Extremely nutritious.
Autumn olive is medicinal. Pretty darn medicinal, actually.
Autumn olive benefits the land. Seriously. This “nuisance” can actually revive the ecosystem by inserting key nutrients back into the soil.
Now of course… this information goes against everything we’ve ever been told about autumn olive, and if you’re unfamiliar with this plant, here’s a brief backstory.
In the early 1800s, autumn olive was introduced to North America from Asia and widely planted as an ornamental. Fast forward a century, and in the 1900s this shrub was highly promoted for its ability to feed wildlife, to control erosion, and to act as a windbreak. As nature would have it, autumn olive quickly spread into new territories and earned its status as one of the most invasive plants in Eastern North America.
Now hold on a second… isn’t it true that autumn olive can contribute to the decline of native plant diversity?
Yes, that seems to be the case.
But isn’t it also true, if we can allow ourselves to consider another perspective, that autumn olive may impart a few benefits to the land as well?
Yes, that also seems to be the case.
Confusing, huh? Good, bad, beneficial, destructive… why can’t nature make up her mind? This can all seem so overwhelming, especially when we’re faced with certain decisions related to land conservation and preservation.
How does autumn olive actually contribute to soil fertility? What’s so special about its fruit? Is it really that nutritious and delicious?
These are great questions, and I’m glad you asked.
If you’re interested in learning as much as I know about this fascinating shrub, check out the video!