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Russian Olive


Russian Olive habitat.


Russian Olive tree.

 Russian Olive branch close-up.

Interesting Facts

  • Can convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia allowing establishment in poor soil conditions
  • Roots can grow as deep as 40 feet
  • The fruit floats and is easily transported and dispersed along waterways
  • Tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions including high winds, flooding, drought, extreme temperatures, saline or alkaline soil conditions


Russian-olive is a small deciduous tree or large thorny shrub that can grow 15 to 30 feet in height

Stems loosely arranged; reddish-brown with silvery scales; twigs are thorn tipped with silvery scales

Leaves are simple, alternate, 1-3 inches long, lance-shaped and silvery on both sides

Flowers are bell-shaped, single or clustered in the leaf axils, fragrant, yellowish on the inside and silver outside

Seed/Fruit are dupe-like, .5 inches long, light green to yellow with silvery scales, hard and fleshy


It is found along fields, open areas, grasslands, stream banks, lakeshores, roadsides, and urban areas, sandy and bare mineral soils. Seedlings are tolerant of shade and thrive in a variety of soil and moisture conditions, including bare mineral substrates.

Ecological Impacts

Russian olive crowds out desirable native riparian trees such as cottonwood and willow, thereby reducing flora and fauna species diversity. Because of its ability to colonize streambanks, Russian olive can alter the natural flooding process and reduce availability of nutrients and moisture for native plant species.


Mechanical: Mowing hedges with a brush type mower, followed by removal of cut material can be an effective method for control.

Chemical: It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as triclopyr or imazapyr.

Biological: Mature, trained goats will selectively graze Russian olive seedlings and young trees.