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Autumn Olive

Autumn Olive, Elaegnus umbellata, Photo by WNY PRISM

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Common Name: Autumn olive
Scientific Name: Elaeagnus umbellata
Origin: Asia


Autumn olive is a large deciduous shrub that can grow to a height of 15 ft, and a width of 20 ft. Its dull green leaves are oval, or lance-shaped, with entire, wavy margins and silvery undersides. Autumn olive flowers in the early summer. Mature shrubs produce dense clusters of bright red berries.


Autumn olive is drought-tolerant and can be found in grasslands, open woodlands, forest edges and other disturbed areas.


Autumn olive outcompetes and shades out native plants. It hosts nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its root nodules, similar to a legume, allowing it to grow in even the least fertile soils. Its nitrogen-fixing ability can also alter soil composition and disrupt normal nutrient cycling. A single shrub can produce 200,000 seeds in one year. Its berries are very attractive to birds, which help the seeds disperse.


Seedlings can be hand pulled. Larger trees may be cut and have herbicide applied to the stump. Follow-up treatments may be necessary.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart


Autumn olive was introduced to the US as an ornamental plant in the early 19th century.

Autumn olive is a prohibited species in New York State – for more information on Prohibited and Regulated Species, visit

Native Alternatives

Serviceberry (Amelanchier)

American plum (Prunus americana)

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

American/high-bush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)

This map shows confirmed observations (green points) submitted to the NYS Invasive Species Database. Absence of data does not necessarily mean absence of the species at that site, but that it has not been reported there. For more information, please visit iMapInvasives.