Elaeagnus – Fruit

Q: I recently found a shrub with weeping limbs and tasty-looking fruit. I don’t recall ever seeing this before. Isn’t it odd that anything would fruit in late March?

A: You’ve found a healthy elaeagnus shrub. A polite common name is “silverleaf” or “silverthorn” but some unkind gardeners call it “Ugly Agnes” due to its unkempt appearance.

I see elaeagnus planted in rows along the Interstate. No doubt many lives have been saved by it…a big stand of them can stop an eighteen wheeler!

Silverleaf has tiny fragrant flowers in fall. You’ll never notice them but their sweet fragrance can travel across a neighborhood.

The flowers are followed by multitudes of fruit, much appreciated by squirrels and birds. The fruit is considered edible but it’s pretty sour. Animals distribute the seed far and wide, making this shrub one of the worst for invasiveness.

I don’t recommend planting elaeagnus in a landscape…but due to its sweet fall perfume, I never call it “Ugly Agnes”.

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