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Elaeagnus

Elaeagnaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees, Decorative fruit or berries

All elaeagnus are splendid screen plants. They grow fast when young, becoming dense, full, firm, and tough—and they do it with little upkeep. All tolerate seashore conditions, heat, and wind. Foliage is distinguished in evergreen forms by silvery (sometimes brown) dots that cover leaves, reflecting sunlight to give plants a special sparkle. Deciduous kinds have silvery gray leaves. Small, insignificant, but usually fragrant flowers are followed by decorative fruit, usually red with silvery flecks. Evergreen kinds bloom in fall; in addition to their prime role as screen plants, they are useful as natural espaliers, clipped hedges, or high bank covers.

Elaeagnus commutata

This deciduous shrub is native to Alaska, Rocky Mountains, northern plains of U.S. and Canada. Grows upright to 12 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide, with open form and slender, spineless, red-brown branches that become coated with silvery scales. Oval leaves are silvery gray on both surfaces. Tiny, fragrant spring flowers are followed in early fall by dry, mealy, 1/3-in.-long, oval fruits, also silver coated and a favorite of birds. Plant spreads by suckers to form colonies.

Elaeagnus pungens
Elaeagnus pungens

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Elaeagnus pungens

This evergreen shrub is native to China and Japan. Has rather rigid, sprawling, angular habit of growth to 10–15 ft. high and wide; can be kept lower and denser by pruning. Even tolerates shearing into a hedge. Grayish green, 1–3-in.-long leaves have wavy edges and brown tinting from rusty dots. Branches are spiny, also covered with rusty dots. Overall color of shrub is olive drab. Oval fruit, 1/2 in. long, red with silver dust. Tough container plant in reflected heat, wind.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Elaeagnus x ebbingei

This evergreen shrub is more upright (to 10–12 ft. tall and wide) than E. pungens, with thornless branches. Leaves are 2–4 in. long, silvery on both sides when young, later dark green above and silvery beneath. Tiny, fragrant silvery flowers. Red fruit makes good jelly. ‘Gilt Edge’ has striking yellow margins on its leaves.

Elaeagnus ‘Coral Silver’

Evergreen in mild-winter climates, deciduous or partially deciduous elsewhere. Has unusually bright gray foliage, yellow flowers, coral red berries in autumn. Grows 5–10 ft. tall.

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