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What are your thoughts on Autumn Olive?

 
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I volunteer for an organisation in The Lower Hudson. We log, remove and monitor invasive species. The first year I lived in the US, I spent most of it wandering the woods of NJ and NY, identifying and uploading to iNaturalist. Initially, I hardly knew any plants, trees or fungi. My knowledge grew and so did my understanding of the invasive problem. It felt like the whole forest floor was only invasive species. The top ten are:
Japanese Barberry, Wineberry, Garlic Mustard, Multiflora Rose, Winged Euonymus, Wild Garlic, Japanese Knotweed, Japanese Honeysuckle, Japanese Angelica and Autumn Olive. (On a side note, The Japanese didn’t bring the plants with the word Japanese with them to the US and it’s not an Asian invasion as I’ve heard it said, they are typically ornamental plants grown in gardens that escape into the wild and may do better than local species as they don’t have the same pests and diseases then their original habitat).

Which brings me to Autumn Olive, also called Japanese Silver berry . . . I have cleared hundreds . . . It doesn’t seem to make any difference and I sometimes wander if it isn’t making the problem worse. By cutting it down, I may be simply pollarding and it will grow back thicker. But that’s my role as an volunteer.

As a future planter of food forests, I look at the Autumn Olive as an awesome tree. It’s a fast grower, fixes nitrogen, makes a good windbreak and used to combat soil erosion. It’s also pretty, provides nectar and the fruit are edible. I want it on my list.

By nature, I recognise that I can be very black and white. I’m struggling with the idea of doing something that goes completely against the work I’m doing.

So what are your thoughts on Autumn Olive and growing an invasive species?
 
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Edward, great question!

If you were to ask the same question about Japanese honeysuckle, I would say it is terrible as it chokes out and kills so much native vegetation near me.

And I would say the same about Autumn Olive if it were not for two differences.

1.  I have plenty of Autumn Olive on my property and I can keep most of it in check by mowing once per year.  This gives me a nice prairie.

2.  What Autumn Olive does grow, does so along a fence line and actually makes a rather beautiful living fence that wildlife love.  Also, I do trim the brush back every 2-3 years and all that Autumn Olive gives me a great deal of wonderful wood chips!

So while Autumn Olive is a lemon I am stuck with, I try to make lemonade.  The problem is the solution!

Eric
 
Edward Norton
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Thanks Eric, excellent points.

I grew up with hedges in the UK and I really like the idea of recreating hedges with a mixture of fruit and nut trees.
 
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To me, it seems that if a person understands the plant and its characteristics and is still willing to plant it then that seems to be okay.

The problem with how these plants became invasive is that they were allowed to live the plant life as the plant knew how to do and the person who planted them didn't take precautions to keep them in check.

This is probably not that person's fault as they saw the plant as something pretty at the nursery and bought the plant without understanding its characteristics.

I would say plant Autumn Olive because you understand what it will do.
 
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I love Autumn Olive.  The berries are delicious, I don't find that it spreads easily, chickens love the berries as well.  I planted it on my old property, but had trouble keeping it alive there.  My new place has it, so I have transplanted some to my food forest, others I just browse as I'm walking around.  I try to spit the seeds at intervals to hopefully get more.  For me, on my land, their invasiveness is exaggerated.  
 
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There are so many around here that I don't fool myself thinking I could get rid if it even if I tried. I just work around it and work with it where I can. For example, there's one growing in a forest border bed that I just left in place. I plan to just keep it in check with the occasional chop and drop.

That said, I would not actively transplant it into a food forest because there are better options available. Goumi berries bushes are essentially the same as Autumn Olive but with much better fruit quality. It has been suggested that I graft some Goumi cuttings onto existing Autumn Olives so I look forward to trying that soon.  
 
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It just showed up in my neighborhood a few years ago along the edges of a state highway that had just been rebuilt. It rapidly colonized all the disturbed areas running for several miles on both sides. There is so much of it that the fragrance, when in bloom is overwhelming just driving through it.

The fist plant showed up on my property just two or three years ago and is now easily 10 feet tall and spreads nearly that much and I'm also now seeing it along the roads closer to home. My big bush and a couple smaller ones are covered in the red fruits right now. I'm a bit of a coward and haven't called up the courage to sample the berries yet.

It's here for good it looks like to me. It is so happy here and apparently easily dispersed by birds. No way to eradicate it even if I wanted to. Also thriving and spreading rapidly in my area are the descendants of those supposedly sterile ornamental pears.

Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose and other "invasives"  have always been here in my memory and are not really all that bad in many ways. These autumn olives and pears seem much more aggressive in growth and their ability to spread, together they are completely colonizing abandoned pastures and other neglected areas.

I'm not sure that is completely a bad thing. I suspect and I'm already seeing these two plants overwhelming the non-native grasses that inhibit most other things. I expect in coming years for large areas to be completely dominated by these species. But I also expect that the occasional walnut or acorn will sprout and struggle under them for years until it finally gets a few leaves above and finds the sun. Years later the big trees will smother it all out, that's what happens here with multiflora anyway.

Anyway, like I said it's here to stay. I won't let it take over my yard and garden but the non-wooded but wild areas of my neighborhood are going to be overwhelmed by it for awhile.

 
Trace Oswald
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Matt Todd wrote: Goumi berries bushes are essentially the same as Autumn Olive but with much better fruit quality. It has been suggested that I graft some Goumi cuttings onto existing Autumn Olives so I look forward to trying that soon.  



I keep thinking about trying goumi as well, but I get mixed information when I look them up.  Some places say they are good to zone 4, some say zone 5.  Zone 5 plants sometimes survive on my land, but I really like to plant things that are good to zone 4 or colder just to be on the safe side.  I may put a few in next year to see how they do.  I've never eaten them, so I'm curious to try.
 
Trace Oswald
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Mark Reed wrote:It just showed up in my neighborhood a few years ago along the edges of a state highway that had just been rebuilt. It rapidly colonized all the disturbed areas running for several miles on both sides. There is so much of it that the fragrance, when in bloom is overwhelming just driving through it.

The fist plant showed up on my property just two or three years ago and is now easily 10 feet tall and spreads nearly that much and I'm also now seeing it along the roads closer to home. My big bush and a couple smaller ones are covered in the red fruits right now. I'm a bit of a coward and haven't called up the courage to sample the berries yet.

It's here for good it looks like to me. It is so happy here and apparently easily dispersed by birds. No way to eradicate it even if I wanted to. Also thriving and spreading rapidly in my area are the descendants of those supposedly sterile ornamental pears.

Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose and other "invasives"  have always been here in my memory and are not really all that bad in many ways. These autumn olives and pears seem much more aggressive in growth and their ability to spread, together they are completely colonizing abandoned pastures and other neglected areas.

I'm not sure that is completely a bad thing. I suspect and I'm already seeing these two plants overwhelming the non-native grasses that inhibit most other things. I expect in coming years for large areas to be completely dominated by these species. But I also expect that the occasional walnut or acorn will sprout and struggle under them for years until it finally gets a few leaves above and finds the sun. Years later the big trees will smother it all out, that's what happens here with multiflora anyway.

Anyway, like I said it's here to stay. I won't let it take over my yard and garden but the non-wooded but wild areas of my neighborhood are going to be overwhelmed by it for awhile.



If nothing else, it grows fast and cuts very easily with a pruner, you could have a near never-ending amount of stock for making charcoal for biochar.  With a chipper, you could make truck loads of wood chips, and those are always needed.  Small branches with the leaves make the best wood chips.
 
Eric Hanson
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I will say this about Autumn Olive though,

Around me it is terribly invasive and spreads like mad.  In my case, I did not plant it and would not if I had the choice.  In my case it was here long before I got here.  Like I stated earlier, I control most by mowing and the little that remains is the part I can’t reach in the fence line.

But again, as I stated earlier, I have made the best of the situation I have.  In my case, I have a need for copious wood chips as all my garden beds are raised and filled with wood chips broken down by Wine Cap mushrooms.  It makes great garden bedding.  

About 18 months ago I chipped up a major trimming project and got a mountain of chips 7’ tall!  I have distributed much of those chips and my beds need topping off again.  The remnants of the chip pile are slowly rotting and I will be out of chips in perhaps a year at which point I will need to trim again and replenish my wood chip supply.  

I guess in the end I am lucky in that I have an endless supply of wood chips.

Eric
 
Mark Reed
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Trace Oswald wrote:

If nothing else, it grows fast and cuts very easily with a pruner, you could have a near never-ending amount of stock for making charcoal for biochar.  With a chipper, you could make truck loads of wood chips, and those are always needed.  Small branches with the leaves make the best wood chips.


Yep, you got some lemons, make some lemon aid. I hadn't considered those uses but that one big bush is always accommodating when I need bean poles. Most have  a bit of a curve but the beans don't seem to mind.
 
pollinator
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An insanely-hardy shrub! I planted 4 of them into the worst possible place and then ran out of time to even look at them. Minus the one that ate a 28" pine tree, they are still there. No water, no  mulch, no organic matter exists anywhere near the dust piles they are growing in. Hopefully this will be the year that I can develop some of that area and maybe even sample some of the fruit!

LIke was said above, if you understand what they are, I recommend them,
 
pollinator
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What I am NOT reading in these posts is the fact that birds spread the seeds all over to areas of the landscape that aren't being tended to by conscientious permaculture people like us, and then once established will keep spreading like the kudzu I see along the roadsides.  This issue is larger than your food forest.  I know some people like Sean with Edible Acres don't see any problem with foreign invasive species spreading throughout our native wild areas, but personally I see great damage being done on my 27 acres.  I would be very careful and would think twice about planting ANY non-native species and how these species can outcompete and wipe out important native species.  
 
Eric Hanson
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Joshua,

You are correct about berries and birds.  In my case, the vegetation was already established here well before I moved to the region.  I can only do a small bit to control their spread—mowing—and I do that.  As I mentioned, I have not and would not deliberately plant Autumn Olive.

But again, by me that hardly matters.  Within just a couple of miles from my house I can probably find hundreds of acres of Autumn Olive.  

So I do what I can—mow—and make the best of what I can’t stop outright.

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
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This, like most things, is very location dependent.  Autumn Olive don't spread readily here, and in some cases, it's hard to even keep them alive.  On my land, birds plant far more apple trees than they do Autumn Olive.  My apples are more invasive.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Eric Hanson wrote:Joshua,

You are correct about berries and birds.  In my case, the vegetation was already established here well before I moved to the region.  I can only do a small bit to control their spread—mowing—and I do that.  As I mentioned, I have had and would not deliberately plant Autumn Olive.

But again, by me that hardly matters.  Within just a couple of miles from my house I can probably find hundreds of acres of Autumn Olive.  

So I do what I can—mow—and make the best of what I can’t stop outright.

Eric



Eric, I understand your conundrum.  I had alianthus growing on my land and I hacked and squirted them out of existence.  Same with the privet.  Japanese honeysuckle and stilt grass on the other hand are at the point where I don't think it humanly possible for me to eradicate, and it's sad.  When I see parts of my forest floor completely covered with stilt grass and choking out every other plant, it makes me so furious!  And just like the emerald ash borer, when I contact my local extension for aid there is none.  Obviously our federal and state government don't give two shits that much of our native forests will never be native again.  And I get it - the counter argument is always "well nothing is truly native", but I contend that much like global warming, this is now happening much too quickly because the spread of these invasives has been and is being caused by humans.  
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Trace Oswald wrote:This, like most things, is very location dependent.  Autumn Olive don't spread readily here, and in some cases, it's hard to even keep them alive.  On my land, birds plant far more apple trees than they do Autumn Olive.  My apples are more invasive.



I don't know where you live Trace, but do you notice any autumn olive along side the roads in your area?

Yes, apples.  Another Asian invasive!  LOL....
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Can anybody explain the difference between goumi and goji berries?
 
Eric Hanson
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Joshua,

I hear you about the Japanese Honeysuckle.  My land had the beginning of a major JH infestation until I went out and uprooted every single plant I could find.  It took years but today JH is virtually undetectable on my property.  It was not quick or easy but I did get it done.

Eric
 
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goumi is a spring-fruiting eleagnus, closely related to autumn olive. single seed per berry. goji is a nightshade like a tomato. lots of tiny seeds. there are probably plenty more differences i could list.

for what it’s worth, i’m stratifying autumn olive seeds for next year…with the intention of grafting them all over to goumis. i have one largish autumn olive shrub on my property that doesn’t fruit.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Eric Hanson wrote:Joshua,

I hear you about the Japanese Honeysuckle.  My land had the beginning of a major JH infestation until I went out and uprooted every single plant I could find.  It took years but today JH is virtually undetectable on my property.  It was not quick or easy but I did get it done.

Eric



Well thanks Eric - that gives me hope!
 
Eric Hanson
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Joshua,

At first I thought it was a task impossible.  But then I found that the individual crowns produce numerous vines.  I then traced vines back to the rooting crown, cut the vines where they grew up vegetation, pulled vines up from the ground where they started to set down roots and dug deep to dig up as much of the taproot as I could.  

It turns out that getting one taproot knocked out a lot of vines.  I just kept following the green and still growing vegetation (not dead or wilting vines) and attacked another crown, then another and so on.

I burned all the vines and taproots.  Now if I find a vine, it is singular and easily removed.
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Eric Hanson wrote:Joshua,

At first I thought it was a task impossible.  But then I found that the individual crowns produce numerous vines.  I then traced vines back to the rooting crown, cut the vines where they grew up vegetation, pulled vines up from the ground where they started to set down roots and dug deep to dig up as much of the taproot as I could.  

It turns out that getting one taproot knocked out a lot of vines.  I just kept following the green and still growing vegetation (not dead or wilting vines) and attacked another crown, then another and so on.

I burned all the vines and taproots.  Now if I find a vine, it is singular and easily removed.



Eric, I hear ya!  I have now spent several days in my woods pulling vines the past couple of years.  I do it in the winter around me because it's easier to get around my woods in the winter and the honeysuckle leaves are one of the only plants that are still green.  
 
Trace Oswald
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Joshua LeDuc wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:This, like most things, is very location dependent.  Autumn Olive don't spread readily here, and in some cases, it's hard to even keep them alive.  On my land, birds plant far more apple trees than they do Autumn Olive.  My apples are more invasive.



I don't know where you live Trace, but do you notice any autumn olive along side the roads in your area?

Yes, apples.  Another Asian invasive!  LOL....



I'm in Wisconsin.  We do have some along the roads, but not many.  The only place they "pop-up" here are edge type areas.  The road I live on is connected to a very small rural highway.  On my road, between the highway and the house is about 3 or 4 miles.  There are a half dozen or so Autumn Olives bushes along the sides of the road in area between the open pasture type areas and the woodline , and a few random ones here and there on what used to be a farmer's pasture a number of years ago.  They seem to like edge the best.  The really open areas only get a handful of them and there are none in the actual woods, but I have more along the old trails that were on my property before I got here and along a couple trails I keep semi-mowed to keep the blackberries from taking over so I can get around.  And speaking of blackberries, the autumn olive and blackberries seem to have some sort of symbiotic relationship or just really like similar conditions, because they often grow intermixed here.

Forgot to mention, they seem to really thrive in warmer areas than I am in.  Most of you are at least a couple zones warmer than I am here.
 
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Joshua LeDuc wrote:

And I get it - the counter argument is always "well nothing is truly native", but I contend that much like global warming, this is now happening much too quickly because the spread of these invasives has been and is being caused by humans.  


And wrote:

Yes, apples.  Another Asian invasive!


Trace Oswald wrote:

The only place they "pop-up" here are edge type areas.


Years ago I read a very interesting book about how many "invasive plants" invaded because humans had changed the landscape in ways that allowed them to invade. One example was Purple Loosestrife in wetlands. The book insisted that it invaded when humans allowed too much nitrogen to flow off farmland into waterways. When farmers learn to stop applying artificial fertilizers to their land, but use polycultures and plant rotation and no-till methods, the Purple Loosestrife in downstream waterways can no longer out-compete native plants that are used to low nitrogen conditions and declines even if it doesn't disappear entirely.

Autumn Olive is an edge plant and thrives in crappy soil. (although if the soil's too crappy, even it struggles - my plant struggles, the neighbor's has shown no sign of expanding - I think we're on the edge of its "wet winter" tolerance) Humans are producing tons of "edge" and tons of "crappy soil".  The very climate change that Joshua mentions, is stressing plants that used to live in an area, and allowing ones that can cope with stress to take over. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't/can't try to protect and support zones of plants who adapted to an area hundreds or thousands of years ago, but many of those plants likely only live in a region, because they "invaded" or more politely "volunteered" to rehabilitate a land damaged by the last ice age. This is why we identify some plants as "pioneers".  There is no "one right answer" here.  I certainly take the time to check invasiveness when I plant trees/shrubs that may provide me with food and if I think it may be too successful, I will intentionally choose a spot that will naturally keep it in check. However, I will not hammer plants that popular North American culture identifies as weeds or undesirable in some way - I'll find a use for them. A few dandelion leaves in my bone broth adds great nutrition, and fed to my chickens makes healthy eggs.
 
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"Invasion" is a human concept, not a natural one. The opportunities that invite proliferation of autumn olive, and many other plants mislabeled "invasive" are created by human activities. These plants are natural efforts to restore what we have destroyed. Autumn olive in specific is one that, if left to simply run its course, is self-limiting. It creates conditions that support the growth of a forest in which autumn olive cannot survive. I'm totally unconcerned about it "invading" our twenty acres of woodland - it can't survive in there, only around the edges. I've no problem at all with it showing up in an area I'm clearing for development along my chosen path rather than the oak/maple forest our biome naturally leans toward. I want to promote a makeup that's more productive in human terms, so more nut trees, more fruit, understory berries, Autumn Olive contributes nicely to these goals. Loads of biomass, nitrogen fixation, fruit that is edible to me, my poultry and various wildlife.

If you want Autumn Olive to endure indefinitely, you cut it back and leave the space open for it to regrow. If you want to be rid of it, you encourage the forest secession and it will disappear as the trees overgrow it and shade it out. But if you fight against nature to preserve the disrupted biome that is the result of human activity, then you're going to be trying to push back the "invader(s)" like Sysyphus.
 
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Unfortunately, as noted only once in this thread (by Joshua) there is more in your area than your own parcel. Books on invasive species always mention how far normally a species can spread. Invasive species spread regardless whether humans have disturbed the landscape all around or not. I can give you example, Australian species have totally displaced many native parts of mediterranean forest, which was in part untouched before invasives arrived. These have the advantage of sprouting faster whenever there is fire, which by the way occurred before humans were around here. Then even if birds eat the autumn olive fruit, biodiversity is more than what a naked eye can see; native species evolved together with hundreds of other species (insects included) above and below the soil. Yes, native trees are taller and if we allow 200 years they would take over the forest by shading the invasives, but having the tools to fight the invasives we should do it. But beforehand, think about avoiding planting them? Just my 2 cents.
 
Eric Hanson
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Fernando,

Actually I am quite sensitive to how far and wide invasive species can spread and how quickly they do so.

I mentioned above in a couple of posts that I do what I can to control Autumn Olive on my property—mostly by annual mowing.  But as I also mentioned, within a radius of only a couple of miles from my house I can probably find hundreds of acres of Autumn Olive.  In particular, not far from my house is some state and federally managed land (in particular, a national wildlife refuge).  Unfortunately, there is a 40 acre parcel of National Wildlife Refuge that is completely covered in densely packed, 15-20’ tall Autumn Olive.  I simply can’t do anything about those 40 acres.  My hedgerow hardly even compares to that nearby 40 acres.  I really wish some action would be taken about all that Autumn Olive, but for reasons I don’t understand nothing has ever been done.

I am sensitive to your concerns, but near me the issue is far larger than my hedgerow.
 
fernando ribeiro
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Hi Eric, before posting I had read the whole thread and had understood your position; my comments were broader and concern more the idea put forward by Peter about "invasion" being a human concept, along with comments praising the fact that an invasive can be used because it is a nitrogen fixer (regardless). I just think we can't forget that in so many cases invasive species became dominant in a landscape because either they brought money along or other kind of benefit. Being a volunteer in your organization, you probably know better than me the yearly costs of fighting invasive species, and probably know more than me about biodiversity.

Without wanting to add extra noise to the thread, we should distinguish between invasive and naturalized species. Of course a huge part of what we eat comes from non-native species, but I can't stress enough how powerless we feel in Portugal and Spain about not being able to reforest native forests without huge workload after three decades of australian species take-over.

But clarifying my position about your original post: planting autumn olive where it already became so invasive is not a problem, so I would probably go for it after checking whether i could use some native or non-invasive alternatives.
 
Eric Hanson
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Thanks for the clarification Fernando.

Just for reference, I am not a volunteer at a local forestry organization, and I never actually planted Autumn Olive—mine was here long before I got here.  But I sympathize with the situation you must have on the Iberian peninsula.  Not being able to replant a native forest must feel tragic.

Just a few miles further from my house we have sections of federal forest that have been completely taken over by Japanese Honeysuckle vines.  They climb everywhere and smother what they climb.

Strangely, there are sections of the same forest that for reasons I don’t understand get burned once every year or two specifically to control Japanese Honeysuckle—it is very sensitive to fire.  I simply don’t understand why these controlled burns are not carried out on other sections of the forest.  

I am puzzled.
 
Jay Angler
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Eric Hanson wrote:Strangely, there are sections of the same forest that for reasons I don’t understand get burned once every year or two specifically to control Japanese Honeysuckle—it is very sensitive to fire.  I simply don’t understand why these controlled burns are not carried out on other sections of the forest.  

I am puzzled.

Maybe it's a double-blind study? Why fix something if studying it gets you more money?
 
Eric Hanson
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Jay,

It could be a study what with a university right next door.
 
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I just picked some autumn olive berries and tried them for the first time. The flavor reminded me of the Indian gooseberry or Phyllanthus emblica. Just thinking about the name makes my mouth watering! I am ready to collect some more, my chickens love eating them too.
 
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I'm struggling a bit with these questions at the moment. What can we plant, and what not? We (living in Scandinavia) sort of have to plant some non-natives if we want to grow any of our own food. A diet based solely from native Scandinavian species would have limited variety on the plant side, excepting berries, and it would be challenging to get anything much in the way of calories. We also want to grow our food in a forest garden-ish setting, which means that we will not restrict ourselves to annual crops that die out without constant human intervention. Of course we look up the invasion potential of any plant before we plant it, but what if we miss something? What if the arctic kiwi goes bananas and smothers our forest, despite the fact that we have decided to grow Actinidia kolomikta rather than A. arguta? What if the chinese toona takes over, despite being at the very limit of its hardiness? What if what if what if? It feels like this question has been following me around for the last half year.

I suppose the best we can do is to choose plants that aren't known to be invasive (in our area at least) and keep a close eye on them for a while to make sure they don't go berserk. But still, it's a bit scary, given that we'll most likely be planting some stuff that nobody has tried in that precise area before.

On another note, I read an interesting study a while ago on the prevalence of garlic mustard in the US. Apparently, it has started decreasing again in some areas. They also cited some older studies on other invasives, showing the same pattern. From what I understood, they believe it's due to the build-up of pests and diseases over time. The ecosystem will probably find some balance eventually, even with the very worst invasives, but it will take a long time, and the balance it reaches will not be the same one that existed before. (Note: I'm NOT advocating planting loads of horrible invasives just because they will eventually be "balanced out" a few decades or centuries from now. I'm just saying that the ones that are already here and can't be removed will likely not remain as dangerous forever.)

Sorry if this was slightly off topic...
 
fernando ribeiro
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Hi Eino,

I think your thoughts are very much ontopic!

I would like to say that if you look up the invasion potential of a plant before you plant it... you can't miss much! About planting exotic species for diversifying diet i don't see anything wrong with that: I don't mind planting oranges (exotic) as they won't become invasive but I am afraid of planting bamboo (exotic) because i know it probably will take over the patch next to the water and eventually sprout on my neighbor abandoned and inaccessible land within a couple of years.
 
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Matt Todd wrote:That said, I would not actively transplant it into a food forest because there are better options available. Goumi berries bushes are essentially the same as Autumn Olive but with much better fruit quality. It has been suggested that I graft some Goumi cuttings onto existing Autumn Olives so I look forward to trying that soon.  



I have two Autumn Olive bushes and one Goumi bush. My kids and I love the fruit on all of them but our Autumn Olives are cultivated varieties- Ruby (tm) and Golden(tm). The Goumi fruit is ripe in spring and the Autumn Olives are ripe in the fall so, for us, we like having both plants since we get fruit in different seasons. We don't have a problem with it being invasive where we live.

On the subject of planting things that are invasive, what we do have huge problems with are non-native blackberries. My family has to spend weeks of labor every year combating the blackberries that want to engulf our land and we hardly make a dent on our small 3 acres. And the next year it's grown back so much you can't even tell we ever cut it down. Whenever I hear about people planting blackberries, I get this upset cringey feeling that seems to be the same response some people get about Autumn Olive! But then I have to remind myself that maybe blackberries aren't invasive where they live. Maybe their blackberries are better behaved. (And I should add the I do still enjoy eating the blackberries when August comes around and I've become resigned to their existence.)
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Matt Todd wrote: Goumi berries bushes are essentially the same as Autumn Olive but with much better fruit quality. It has been suggested that I graft some Goumi cuttings onto existing Autumn Olives so I look forward to trying that soon.  



I keep thinking about trying goumi as well, but I get mixed information when I look them up.  Some places say they are good to zone 4, some say zone 5.  Zone 5 plants sometimes survive on my land, but I really like to plant things that are good to zone 4 or colder just to be on the safe side.  I may put a few in next year to see how they do.  I've never eaten them, so I'm curious to try.


I totally second Matt's point.  This whole thread is focused on whether the pros of Autumn Olive outweigh the cons, and the ethics of planting an invasive, and whether the whole concept of "invasive" species is even valid, etc., etc.  I say: why bother with the debate?!  Just avoid the whole dilemma and plant Goumi instead!

I can totally vouch for Goumi, as I've grown dozens of them for over a decade now.  It is a winner of a food forest species: hardy, N-fixing, attractive, fast-growing, productive, and pest-proof.  And I can vouch for the fact that it is not at all invasive like its cousin.  Over the years I've grown Goumi, there must have been many tens of thousands of seeds dropped on my property, either with or without the gastrointestinal processing of birds.  In all that time, I think I could count on one hand all of the Goumi seedlings I've ever discovered.

In my experience, you can keep Goumi bushes small and compact, either through excessive shade or regular pruning.  Or you can let them reach 20 feet.  So they could fit into a number of different niches in your landscape design.

And while I cannot personally vouch that Goumi fruit is superior in quality to Autumn Olive, as I've never eaten the latter, that is what everyone writes.

@Trace - Unfortunately, I can't advise you as to the lower temperature ranges Goumi will tolerate.  But I would advise you to give it a try nonetheless.  They are tough little guys, and they hail from Korea and Northern China, where it gets damned cold.  They might just survive for you.  If they do, I think you will be pleased with them.  The fruit makes some fine jam, although they are a pain in the butt to process.  Very sweet-tart, with a flavor vaguely like cherry.
 
Trace Oswald
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Matt Todd wrote: Goumi berries bushes are essentially the same as Autumn Olive but with much better fruit quality. It has been suggested that I graft some Goumi cuttings onto existing Autumn Olives so I look forward to trying that soon.  



I keep thinking about trying goumi as well, but I get mixed information when I look them up.  Some places say they are good to zone 4, some say zone 5.  Zone 5 plants sometimes survive on my land, but I really like to plant things that are good to zone 4 or colder just to be on the safe side.  I may put a few in next year to see how they do.  I've never eaten them, so I'm curious to try.


I totally second Matt's point.  This whole thread is focused on whether the pros of Autumn Olive outweigh the cons, and the ethics of planting an invasive, and whether the whole concept of "invasive" species is even valid, etc., etc.  I say: why bother with the debate?!  Just avoid the whole dilemma and plant Goumi instead!

I can totally vouch for Goumi, as I've grown dozens of them for over a decade now.  It is a winner of a food forest species: hardy, N-fixing, attractive, fast-growing, productive, and pest-proof.  And I can vouch for the fact that it is not at all invasive like its cousin.  Over the years I've grown Goumi, there must have been many tens of thousands of seeds dropped on my property, either with or without the gastrointestinal processing of birds.  In all that time, I think I could count on one hand all of the Goumi seedlings I've ever discovered.

In my experience, you can keep Goumi bushes small and compact, either through excessive shade or regular pruning.  Or you can let them reach 20 feet.  So they could fit into a number of different niches in your landscape design.

And while I cannot personally vouch that Goumi fruit is superior in quality to Autumn Olive, as I've never eaten the latter, that is what everyone writes.

@Trace - Unfortunately, I can't advise you as to the lower temperature ranges Goumi will tolerate.  But I would advise you to give it a try nonetheless.  They are tough little guys, and they hail from Korea and Northern China, where it gets damned cold.  They might just survive for you.  If they do, I think you will be pleased with them.  The fruit makes some fine jam, although they are a pain in the butt to process.  Very sweet-tart, with a flavor vaguely like cherry.



You've convinced me to try
 
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Matthew Nistico wrote:
And while I cannot personally vouch that Goumi fruit is superior in quality to Autumn Olive, as I've never eaten the latter, that is what everyone writes.



Personally I think goumi has less astringency than Autumn Olive and the seeds are a tiny bit smaller. But I like the taste of both.
 
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Autumn olive is extremely invasive and spreads rapidly. If it is not already in your area stay away from it or you might become unpopular with your neighbors.
 
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