Autumn Olive berries are a favorite in our house, and we introduce this invasive edible to everyone we know in hopes that they will also enjoy and gather lots of them. Our invasive plant book, "Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species" by Sylvan and Wallace Kaufman lists pros and cons of the autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) bush. Autumn olive is also listed on the USDA National Invasive Species website. Problems associated with the plant include it's tendency to grow densely and outcompete all other native plants in an area, and the plant's ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, therefore changing soil composition. One benefit is the fruit, which can stay on the bush into the wintertime, and another is the cover provided for wildlife. We do often see roadsides or old fields completely filled with the silvery autumn olive foliage. The plant was introduced in 1830 from China, Korea, and Japan as an ornamental plant. It reproduces easily because it makes an incredibly large amount of single-seeded berries, and can survive well in poor soil.
We use the berries to make jam and fruit leather, and the whole berries freeze surprisingly well for use in wintertime oatmeal breakfasts. We have also made a peasant wine from the berries. We have observed some odd characteristics of the berries while processing them. If sent through the food mill to remove seeds while raw, the sweet, red pulp will separate from a translucent, sour, pink juice. Robert made a jelly from the juice, and used the unsweetened pulp to make fruit leather.
More Photos Of Autumn Olive Click Here.