Russian Olive, Oleaster tree (Elaeagnus angustifolia) 25 seeds
Shrub Layer in Food Forest
Drought Tolerant, low soil fertility OK
Cannot Ship to CT, CO,NM
The oleaster tree, “iğde” in Turkish (with a soft g), botanically Elaeagnus angustifolius, strongly resembles a willow. Flowing branches with rustling, pointy, long leaves makes one think of a willow. It is also close to olives, actually a relative to the olive family, also known by the name Russian olive. Actually, it is regarded as the ancestor of the olive; the leaves have the same silvery shine and the fruits resemble an olive in shape. Sometimes the wild olive is called oleaster, though they are completely different trees. The rusty brown dried fruit also resembles a miniscule date. There are not many written descriptions of the culinary aspect of oleaster in the English language. Back in 1994, Phill Iddison, a long-time symposiast of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery, wrote about oleaster in Petits Propos Culinaires. Phill had previously lived in Istanbul, working on the construction of the second Bosphorus Bridge. Intrigued by this peculiar fruit, he felt the urge to describe it in detail: “They are ovoid, a half to one inch long and have a pale brown skin when ready for eating. The skin is thin and papery and peels off easily to reveal the buff-colored, soft, mealy flesh which induces thirst. It is sweet with a flavor reminiscent of medlar and the flesh clings to the stone which is ribbed and striped brown.” He adds that they are only eaten as a snack but were once also used in breads and making fermented drinks. The medicinal potential is remarkable. Latest research here.
How to grow: Your seeds have been dry/cold stratified. A period of 2-3 months moist stratification is recommended. Take an emery board and file the seed shell to expose the interior seed – do not nick the interior seed. Place seed in damp sand inside a zip-loc bag and put in the refrigerator drawer. After 2-3 months, fill a planter or seedling tray with sand or peat moss and add enough water to make the growing medium damp. Place each seed as deep as its length and pat the medium over each seed to ensure good contact with the surface. Place the planter in a warm spot away from direct sunlight. Keep the medium moist, but not wet. Most seeds will germinate in one to two months. Transplant seedlings to their more permanent home after at least two sets of leaves appear.