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Invasive Species: Autumn Olive

Autumn Olive

(Elaeagnus umbellata)
*Established in Michigan*


Report this species:

Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

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  • Deciduous shrub that can grow to 20 feet high.
  • Leaves are bright green on top and distinctively silver underneath.
  • Spring-blooming cream or yellow flowers have a strong fragrance.
  • Abundant red berries are lightly speckled and easily seen in the fall.
  • Flowers arranged in spikes near the end of the stem are small, numerous and creamy white in color.
  • Flowers bloom in August and September in Michigan.

autumn olive
Photo courtesy of Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University,

autumn olive
Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,

autumn olive berries
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania DCNR Forestry,

Habitat: Autumn olive is moderately shade tolerant and occurs on a variety of soil types. It spreads rapidly in old fields and is also found in open woods, along forest edges, roadsides, sand dunes and other disturbed areas. It poses a particular threat to prairies, savannas and open woods.

Native Range: Asia.

U.S. Distribution:  Autumn olive is widespread throughout Michigan and the Eastern United States.  Smaller populations exist in Washington and Oregon.

Local Concern:  Historically planted for wildlife food and habitat, autumn olive has been found to be highly aggressive, with seeds widely dispersed by birds and mammals. Autumn olive can shade out desirable native plants and fixes nitrogen in the soil, which can degrade native plant communities that thrive on low-nutrient soils. It is difficult to control, as cut stumps and roots will resprout.


Autumn Olive Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF

Best Control Practice Guide for Autumn Olive This document provides in-depth information about autumn olive in Michigan including identification, distribution, management and control options.