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Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I first learned about autumn olives about a week ago. I looked at several pictures on google images and then went looking for them in my city. I found them at a public garden in Victoria West. They taste a bit like red currants.  Everyone is allowed to harvest at this garden,  but often, things go unharvested.
.....
 A woman involved with the management of the garden,  confirmed the identity of the bushes. She was talking with a lady from the city government,  about expanding to other parks. I voted yes. The city's largest hugelkultur is in the same park. I bit my tongue, while the concept of hugelkultur was explained. It's a story that the garden manager likes to tell. Finally, I blurted - "I have a couple thousand square feet of hugelkultur.  The tallest one is 14 feet tall".
......
 I was expecting to have to deal with thorns,  since that is talked about on forums that deal with this plant. There are no thorns on either of the two large bushes.

 The garden lady told me that they are very easy to propagate and that I am welcome to pick up some cuttings once they become dormant.
.....
 I need a tough resilient plant, to support grapevines. This may be the one. I'm going to plant several of these bushes, and then do a test to see how well they stand up under grapes.
......
 It took me about 10 minutes to fill a 750 gram yogurt container. With practiced and a harvesting apron, it could get down to half that much time.

 The south side of the bush ripens before the north side. Mature berries seem to stick to the bush pretty well and not go soft.  Berries that ripen all at once and then go soft and fall to the ground, often go to waste.

Autumn olives are now one of my favorite fruits.
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duane hennon
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hi Dale,

yes, autumn olives are useful plants
here in west pa, usa
they are considered "invasive" (read pioneer)
which means you don't have to plant them
they just show up!!!
they are very good support plant for grapes and hardy kiwi
they don't get very tall so the vines stay within reach
the tree and the vines get along together
i have had a kiwi growing on an autumn olive for about twenty years
and as long as the tree is allowed a few branches of leaves in the sun
it keeps on truckin

they are good plants for forest garden beds as they also fix nitrogen
I build beds around them when they show up in the field
since they have already started to improve the soil there
the blossoms are much visited by bees and other beneficials
they are a good habitat plant for birds
they can be part of "chop and drop"
chickens would happily pick up any fallen fruit for you

autumn olive also has a cousin called Russian olive
it has basically the same virtues
other than they be thorny
and the fruit is not as nice
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thank you Duane. I am glad to see that the plants are useful for all the things I envision.

 Scotch broom and ocean spray bushes occupy some south facing slope that would be perfect for grapes and autumn olives.

 They don't produce anything useful.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Wow, folks really hate on it for being "invasive." I wonder what bad practices the plants are highlighting by "invading." Those berries are so pretty and look yummy.

 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 171
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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I too am in love with the autumn olive Over here we've planted some of the named cultivars - Hidden springs, Sweet and tart, Big red, Red cascade.

The harvest has started about 10 days ago and by the way the various bushes develop the berries' taste I guess it will last at least for another 14 days.

I love the sweet-and-sour taste - I like that in any fruit (rasps, various apple and cherry cultivars etc) but here it's really front and center. Great stuff.

We've processed some into jam, some are being soaked in schnaps, some got frozen and some will probably get dried.

From what I've seen this year they are also reasonably good as forage. I expected them being more of a player in that regard but they're just fair. This could, however, be a biased verdict as not all of the bushes have grown to proper size yet - there were several with mole damage which I've had to cut low in order to increase the chance of survival. Bees do prefer large patches of the same kind of food so I guess / hope next year will give a clearer picture.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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Nice!

We got one from Raintree a couple of years ago, and this was its first year to fruit. I can't wait until it's in full production and thick with berries like that.

I was reading somewhere online that it makes awesome fruit leather without any added sugar - that the concentration from drying makes the berries really sweet. I definitely plan to try it when we have enough.
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 171
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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When I talk of forage in the previous post, I mean **bee forage**

Here's a comparison of the various named cultivars' berries that somebody else did on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/frutticetum/10834840665/

The important thing is to let them ripen and not to rush the harvest -- give the astringency the chance to mellow out.

They are easy to pick. Way, way easier than seabuckthorn. (Well, I guess that's not much of a comparison.)

Here's one of our bushes (Hidden springs) - not comparable to Dale's beautiful photos but here goes anyway



 
Bill Erickson
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Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Wow, folks really hate on it for being "invasive." I wonder what bad practices the plants are highlighting by "invading." Those berries are so pretty and look yummy.



Tyler, here's a quote from a paper on them possibly being the source of a cash crop.:

The plants are relatively fast growing, tolerant of drought, saline soils, and of soil pH ranging from alkaline to acid. The roots also form a nitrogen-fixing symbiotic relationship with Frankia bacteria, similar to the relationship between legume plants and
Rhizobia. These characteristics make autumn olive particularly adapted to low-fertility loamy and sandy soils. As a result, the plants were distributed by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and planted widely for windbreaks, and to attract wildlife.


Paper source: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry/production/pdfs/autumnolive.pdf

I'm thinking I want to try this critter out.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I took all of my photos with a cell phone.
.......
Thank you for all replies.  I will have to search to make sure I get right variety. Mine is a very hot and dry location. I can supply water,  but I can't do anything about the heat.

 Naturally, I would prefer fruit the size of a beach ball,  but I'll try to go with whatever works best for my micro-climate.
 
duane hennon
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http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/forests/private/tools-resources/publications/invasive-plants-and-insects/autumn-olive

too much of a good thing can be bad

rather than trying to fight it
I think we should find uses for it
it's not going away
being a pioneer species its kryptonite is shade
plant trees to get rid of it and use it for soil building along the way

the problem with many of the universities and agencies is their view that what is existing is natural
so they object to something that might improve a worn out abandoned pasture and displace some struggling weeds found there
 
Crt Jakhel
Posts: 171
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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Hot and dry is just fine. In my experience the plants in more demanding locations actually brought a better crop. But at least in the first year some grass clippings in a wide circle around the young plants are a big help. Doesn't have to be thick as long as it's there and the hot summer sun rays are not pounding the roots directly. In the second year it'll be 6 feet high and strong

 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm going to use my loppers on the scotch broom and ocean spray. They will be the overstory plants until the autumn olives are well-established. They will also provide plenty of mulch for the new plants.

 Ocean spray is a very strong plant. I will use it to support grapes right away.  Eventually the native plants will be pruned to death  and the weight of the grapes will be transferred to the autumn olives.
.....
I'm eating some right now and have done so every day since the discovery.
 
Francesco Delvillani
Posts: 66
Location: Italy
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I make a very good jam with this berries....i think it's also a nice ornamental plant...
 
Jane Reed
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Location: Fair Play, Northetn California
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Need one, don't know where one grows locally (western slope of Sierra Nevadas near Placerville CA), can't pay a nursery cost plus shipping which can add up to $25-30, on a Social Security income. Any help out there? Happy to pay postage for a rooted shoot. Happier to find out where I can snatch a cutting.

 
Crt Jakhel
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Francesco Delvillani wrote:I make a very good jam with this berries....i think it's also a nice ornamental plant...


Do you not find that the jam has a partly tomato-sauce taste?
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 212
Location: New Hampshire
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Our property is covered in Autumn Olive. I have them sprouting everywhere and others are 20 feet tall.

We find as soon as the berries ripen birds will strip the bush clean in a few hours. The chickens like the ripe fruit but basically ignore it till then.
The new growth doesn't have much in the way of thorns but older growth does. I use branches of it in floral arraignments all the time since I have too many bushes.

I haven't cooked with them because the seeds get stuck in my food mills. I need to find something that will remove the seeds without clogging everything up.

It is good to know they are good with kiwi. We are planting kiwi near the drainage ditch (town built it and we can't do anything to it) that fills with autumn olive seedlings every year.
Chop and drop will be easy.

 
Todd Parr
pollinator
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Jane Reed wrote:Need one, don't know where one grows locally (western slope of Sierra Nevadas near Placerville CA), can't pay a nursery cost plus shipping which can add up to $25-30, on a Social Security income. Any help out there? Happy to pay postage for a rooted shoot. Happier to find out where I can snatch a cutting.



Jane, I have quite a few named cultivars. I would be happy to take some cuttings and get them rooted for you. I had good luck last taking cuttings around July. If you are still interested then, send me a PM and I'll root a few for you. Postage is on me
 
Jane Reed
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Location: Fair Play, Northetn California
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Will do later today--thanks.
 
Francesco Delvillani
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I make good jam with these berries.....the plant is very hardy and takes azote from air, enriching the soil !!
 
steve bossie
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got 3 of these trees planted last spring. put on some new growth . hopefully the next couple years i get some berries!
 
Crt Jakhel
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It seems that cuttings are the way to go -- I took mine off named cultivars in October-November (6-10" / 15-25 cm long, 0.2" / 0.5 cm wide) and stuck them in unfertilized soil. They are now overwintering in an unheated glass enclosure where they get northeastern light and the temps are 45 to 60 F / 5 to 15 C. In the last few weeks I gave them a dose of P-heavy fertilizer to aid in developing roots.

Almost all of the cuttings (30+) are now growing leaves. Many are also flowering but I try to pull those off in order not to overwork the cuttings. Still, it's funny to see a little branch that sticks 4 inches out of the ground trying its hardest to produce sweet little trumpety flowers

One more thing... Whereas fresh berries are excellent, I have yet to find a good way to preserve them.

- When I cooked them, they developed a taste that was close to tomato sauce - interesting but not what I'm looking for from fruit. I like the natural sugar + acid punch and that was just not there anymore.

- When I deep-froze them and then thawed, they kinda tasted like... fish. That sure was a surprise Now, I'm all for fish, provided they actually are fish. See above.

- When I soaked them in alcohol, it was just blah, nothing much happened - not juicy enough I guess.

So I guess drying is next.

If anyone needs cuttings in Europe, let me know and I'll cut some in the autumn. Berries are also an option (dried).
 
Craig Dobbson
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I'm not a huge fan of eating them for the most part. I have a few that produce a decent berry which I will occasionally nibble. My kids like them quite a lot, but since there is so much variation between all of the wild trees I have growing here, a good number of them are better suited for other purposes. Bees and butterflies really like the flowers. I feed an awful lot of Autumn Olive to my livestock from spring til fall. Chickens will eat the berries and pigs will actually eat the leaves and some tender twigs.

Here's a little footage of how I work with Autumn Olive in my landscape:



 
Crt Jakhel
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These pigs look happy
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 463
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Has anyone had problems with seedlings coming up in mowed lawns? I think my neighbors would be get mad.

When and how do you start cuttings?
 
Crt Jakhel
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I do it when the temperatures start dropping low enough that evaporation is no longer an issue (very roughly - below 10 C / 50 F).

Why - because I can't take care of them every day and being able to water them and then check on them a week or two later is most welcome.

How - I take of 3-4 ft tops, cut them into pieces of 6-10 " and about a pencil wide, stick them into unfertilized soil (half under, half above soil level). Maybe wound the bark a little on the bottom side. Put somewhere where it's not warm but not below freezing either (making it easier for roots to grow).

Rub out most of the buds. Eventually leaves will start to open from remaining buds. If you get flowers, which can easily happen, smile but rub those out as well.

The success rate is so high that I'd say they are really not very particular as to how exactly it should be done. I think they would accept a lot of variation in time, size, not / wounding the bark, potting medium, etc. Even just sticking a branch in the open ground might work (like willow or elder) provided you stick them deep enough so frost can't get to them all the way through - I'll try that this year.

 
Francesco Delvillani
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Crt Jakhel wrote:
Francesco Delvillani wrote:I make a very good jam with this berries....i think it's also a nice ornamental plant...


Do you not find that the jam has a partly tomato-sauce taste?


Not particularly....it tastes as Ribes jam, but it is sweeter (using the same % of sugar) !!
 
Todd Parr
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Ken W Wilson wrote:

When and how do you start cuttings?


I did mine in summer a couple weeks after the really fast growth slowed down and they took right off. I put them in damp sand in a terrarium-type thing that I have explained in another thread somewhere. It's very easy.
 
Marcus Billings
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I know this is a year old post but I thought I'd give someone the other side of the coin. The autumn olive is getting a lot of love, but in the mid-west this bush is beyond invasive.    If there's one nearby, a crp field or any open area will be over run in three years with ten foot tall plants to the exclusion of all but the hardiest natives.  There isn't a highway in our state that doesn't have it.   And yes, they grow in the shade too.  They put on foliage so fast that most forest canopies won't close up early enough or or tight enough to kill it.  If used as a companion plant, it will swallow the fruit  or other tree alive without very, very aggressive pruning. Unless a tree is well established, (8-12 feet tall), it will overwhelm the tree that it's next to.  Put's on about 3-5 feet of growth a year in most of Indiana and after it's 15 feet tall, it just gets wider.  Berries do need to be ripe to lose astringency, but I doubt you'll beat the birds to the ripe ones.  Mowing regularly will slow it down and eventually kill it, but you can't stop or it comes back and I don't mow my wildlife areas and it takes over despite enormous amounts of pruning as a mulch.  For a year or two, it's a great wildlife plant, but eventually gets so thick, that deer can't cross it.  I would think long and hard about using it as a nitrogen fixer!  There's probably something that's a better companion plant and won't takeover.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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I'm really curious about what makes this plant *so* invasive in certain areas.  We have one that we put in intentionally, with plans to nip out seedlings if we had to, and in three years it hasn't spread at all.  A neighbor has one on her property that's been there for a decade and again - no volunteers.  A local nursery reported three uninvited seedlings in all their time keeping and cultivating these plants.

It's obviously absolutely true that Autumn Olive is a problem plant in some places, but it's also obviously true that it's not a problem in other places.  If we could nail down the conditions that let it spread so widely, it would be helpful to indicate where one should or shouldn't consider introducing the plant.
 
Rick English
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In Pennsylvania, it seems to take over the edges of once- or twice-a-year mowed meadows. The grassy/forested strips in between roads have quite a lot of autumn olive. As soon as you have one that makes it to maturity, the birds plant a bunch more, so they are expanding exponentially. They must have rather high germination rates... It does seems to love this climate, because it grows so fast it is not mowable by a normal lawn mower within a year. I am not sure a brush hog could deal with them after 2-3 years - need something more like a pruning saw or chainsaw...

I have a few around the edges of my property that appeared on their own. My yard is rather friendly to songbirds, so that is the most likely source. I cut them back drastically once or twice a year and they act as nurse shrubs/trees for other things. They keep coming back, so I am not sure exactly sure what it takes to kill them. I look at them as a nitrogen-fixing, indestructible, comfrey-type plant. It is possible they make even more biomass in a year than my comfrey or fartichokes.

Both pollinators and birds here love them. I wonder if they may have MORE wildlife value here than some "natives" do, so that is why they are spreading so rapidly...

Pennsylvania averages 41 inches of rain per year, so I also suspect it likes our rather wet environment.
 
Todd Parr
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Marcus Billings wrote:I know this is a year old post but I thought I'd give someone the other side of the coin. The autumn olive is getting a lot of love, but in the mid-west this bush is beyond invasive.    If there's one nearby, a crp field or any open area will be over run in three years with ten foot tall plants to the exclusion of all but the hardiest natives.  There isn't a highway in our state that doesn't have it.   And yes, they grow in the shade too.  They put on foliage so fast that most forest canopies won't close up early enough or or tight enough to kill it.  If used as a companion plant, it will swallow the fruit  or other tree alive without very, very aggressive pruning. Unless a tree is well established, (8-12 feet tall), it will overwhelm the tree that it's next to.  Put's on about 3-5 feet of growth a year in most of Indiana and after it's 15 feet tall, it just gets wider.  Berries do need to be ripe to lose astringency, but I doubt you'll beat the birds to the ripe ones.  Mowing regularly will slow it down and eventually kill it, but you can't stop or it comes back and I don't mow my wildlife areas and it takes over despite enormous amounts of pruning as a mulch.  For a year or two, it's a great wildlife plant, but eventually gets so thick, that deer can't cross it.  I would think long and hard about using it as a nitrogen fixer!  There's probably something that's a better companion plant and won't takeover.


I just wrote a very long post in answer to this and then got an error when I tried to post it.  I'll just post the short version.  I'm in the mid-west as well, and none of that has been my experience.  I absolutely love my autumn olive bushes.  I have two growing directly next to an apple tree that I planted within a year or so of the autumn olives and that apple tree is my most productive and they are growing happily together with a lot of other plants in my favorite part of my property.  The autumn olives certainly didn't overwhelm the apple tree, and the apple was no more than a foot tall when I planted them together.  I have never pruned them, except to cut off a low branch here or there that the rabbits girdled.  I have never had a "volunteer" pop up anywhere.  Mine produce heavily and are excellent.  The birds don't eat many, so I have plenty for myself and my chickens.  The chickens can't get enough of them.  If my cuttings take this year, I'm hoping to have at least 20 by next year, possibly more.  I have had mine for a few years now and they are definitely on my top 10 list of plants.
 
steve bossie
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I've had mine here in n. maine for 3 years. I'm in zone 3b so i didn't know if they would make it but both my autumn olive and goumi bushes are covered with flowers this year and I'm looking forward for the fruit. funny that a lot of sites say a. olive is cold hardy to zone 3 and goumi is zone 4 but the a. olives are the only ones that have some winter kill above the snow line. goumi hasn't.
 
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