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Autumn Olive is a deciduous shrub that can grow quite tall. This shrub is native to Asia and was introduced into the U.S. in the 1830's. It was commonly planted for wildlife food and cover. The autumn olive shrub is easy to identify when it is in flower or once the fruits have matured. The leaves have a dintinctive silver underside.
The bark is somewhat olive drab with many white lenticels. As it ages, the bark becomes light gray to gray-brown.
Autumn olive’s young twigs are silvery with brownish scales giving them a speckled appearance. Thorns on young branches may be quite long.
This bush can reach heights up to 6 metres (18') under optimum conditions.
Autumn olive’s leaves are alternate and oval, with finely pointed tips. Their margins are wavy but do not have teeth. They are bright green above, and a distinctive silvery-scale below. Leaves range from 5 to 10 cm (2-4 in) in length. They occur in mid-March to mid-April depending on location.
Autumn olive flowers are quite fragrant. They are cream or pale yellow, tubular with four petals and stamens, and are arranged in clusters of 1 to 8. They bloom from April to June and are insect pollinated.
Autumn olive’s abundant fruits are silvery with brown scales when young and ripen to a speckled red in September and October. Fruits are eaten by a variety of birds, insects and mammals.
Autumn Olive is shade tolerant but prefers dry sites. It is found in open woods, along forest edges, roadsides, sand dunes, and other disturbed areas. Autumn olive grows in many countries.
Raw or cooked berries are edible. They have a pleasant taste that is slightly astringent. Autumn olives can be enjoyed raw and can also be made into preserves. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw.
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