Is the autumn olive the same as the Russian olive?
No, they are different but close relatives. The autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) and the Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) look similar; however, the fruit of the Russian olive, though edible and sweet, has a dryish, mealy texture while the fruit of the autumn olive is plump and juicy.
Isn’t the autumn olive an invasive species?
Yes, it is considered an invasive species all across the United States, but is classified as a noxious weed in only a few states. Because birds (like us!) love the fruit, they disperse the seeds with their waste, and the tree tends to spread quickly because it thrives on poor soil, has low seedling mortality rates, matures in a few years, and outcompetes wild native vegetation. Check out Our Philosophy to learn more our innovative approach to invasive species.
When are autumn berries ripe?
In our region (Central Illinois) the trees tend to ripen from August through November. By now, the wild trees are all genetically different, having spread naturally by seed so they have different traits. The fruit is ripe when it tastes good and does not leave a dry, astringent feel in the mouth as the unripe fruit does.
Is the seed of the autumn berry poisonous?
Absolutely not. The fruit, leaf, and wood are non-toxic. Make sure you can properly identify the tree first, though!
How can I identify autumn berries (or an autumn olive tree)?
The unlobed leaves are silver green on top and powdery silver on the bottom. The berries are textured with gold speckles. Look at a lot of pictures and ask an expert before eating unknown berries.
What can you make with autumn berries?
The berries can be eaten fresh off the tree, but taste even better when made into a puree and used as an ingredient in jam, sauce, sorbet or dried into fruit leather. The juice can also be fermented into a delicious wine. The possibilities are endless. Get inspired! Here are some of our ideas about how to use the autumn berry.