Russian Olive

Elaeagnus angustifolia L.

Russian olive is a fruit-producing tree that grows between 10-25 feet tall. Trunks and branches have a generally red-brown appearance and are protected by 1-to-2 inch spikes. Much of the rest of the tree is light colored: the leaves are long, narrow, and silvery; the flowers are small, yellow, fragrant, and arranged in clusters; the olive-shaped fruit is very light green-brown with a thin furry outer covering.

In Wyoming, Russian olive has become a major problem in several river corridors. It forms dense, impenetrable stands that choke out native vegetation. The roots can form advantageous buds so it’s possible for just one tree to create a colony in the right environment. This tree was originally brought over from Europe as a tool for creating windbreaks and reclaiming mines because it is very versatile in the soil types it can grow in.

In Teton County, there are a few ornamental plantings of Russian olive trees which are monitored regularly to ensure they don’t escape. Additionally, there is a native willow to our area that looks similar.

If you find this weed on your property or around Teton County,
please report it at 733-8419

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