Elaeagnus umbellata, commonly known as autumn olive, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan. It was introduced to North America in the 1830s as an ornamental plant and has since become naturalized throughout much of the continent, particularly in the eastern and central regions.
Autumn olive typically grows to a height of 3-5 meters and has a spreading habit with thorny branches. The leaves are lance-shaped, dark green on the upper surface and silvery-white on the undersides due to tiny scales. In autumn, the shrub produces small, fragrant, creamy white flowers that are followed by abundant clusters of bright red berries, which ripen from late summer through fall.
The fruit of autumn olive is edible and has a tangy, slightly sweet flavor. It is high in vitamin C and antioxidants and is used in various food products, such as jams, jellies, and sauces. However, the shrub is considered an invasive species in many areas and can outcompete native plants, alter ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity. As a result, efforts are being made to control its spread in certain regions.