NC State University
House with native plants and animalsGoing Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants
Home > How to Go Native > Map Existing Site and Vegetation > Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast > Russian Olive

Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast


Russian Olive

Russian Olive

Common Name: Russian Olive

Scientific Name: Eleagnus angustifolia

Identification: Russian Olive is a deciduous thorny tree that may reach 35 feet in height.  The tree has alternate, lanceolate leaves with a silver color on the top and underside.  The bark is dark brown and stems are red, smooth, and thorny.  Five to 10 tubular, silver or yellow fragrant flowers appear between April and June.  During August to October, the olive-shaped drupes containing one nut mature.

Ecology: Russian Olive prefers sandy floodplains and is shade intolerant.  This invasive tree is spread by bird dispersed seeds.  The tree occurs along forest edges and openings, eventually forming dense stands.

Plant Control: In the home landscape, cut down large individual trees with a chainsaw and treat outer two inches of cut surface of stump with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% is preferable). Large saplings can be treated in a similar fashion, taking care to treat the entire cut surface.  Monitor for seedlings and control as needed.
Alternative Native Species: Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), Carolina Laurel Cherry (Prunus caroliniana), Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rafinesquianum)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

Back to top

NC Forest ServiceNC Cooperative Extension