Elaeagnus commutata Bernh. ex Rydb.
Silverberry, American silverberry, Wild olive, Wolf willow
Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)
Synonym(s): Elaeagnus argentea
USDA Symbol: elco
An rounded, twiggy shrub, 1-12 ft. tall, with narrow, silvery-scurfy leaves on grayish-red branches. Small clusters of inconspicuous, cone-shaped flowers are spicily perfumed with a heavy, sweet scent. The fruit is a dry, mealy, whitish berry. This suckering shrub can form patches several yards in diameter.
Fast-growing, long-lived and resistant to disease and insect problems and drought. Transplants well, due to a shallow root system. A very hardy species for cold climates, sometimes used as a windbreak. (The non-native Russian Olive, E. angustifolia, is more extensively used for windbreaks and is becoming invasive.)
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
DistributionUSA: AK , CO , ID , KY , MD , MN , MT , ND , RI , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , MB , NT , NU , ON , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Que. to AK, s. to n.w. MN, n.c. SD, n.e. MT & in the Rockies to UT
Native Habitat: Waterways; gravel benches; prairie hillsides; dry clearings
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, poor soils.
Conditions Comments: Fast-growing, long-lived and resistant to disease and insect problems and drought. Transplants well, due to a shallow root system. A very hardy species for cold climates, sometimes used as a windbreak. (The non-native Russian olive, E. angustifolia, is more extensively used for windbreaks and is becoming invasive.)
BenefitUse Wildlife: Browsers eat the foliage and twigs.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Propagation is by layering, grafting, hardwood & root cuttings and by seed. Seed usually germinate the second spring. Suckers can be separated from parent plants in spring. Stratify seed for 2 to 3 months at 40C prior to sowing. Cutting, suckers. (Williams)
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Seeds have a dual dormancy mechanism. A germination inhibitor is present in the seed coat, and the seeds will not germinate in the presence of light. The seed coat inhibitor can be leached by washing the seeds in warm water for 24 hours.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Elaeagnus commutata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Elaeagnus commutata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Elaeagnus commutata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2009-11-23
Research By: TWC Staff