Elaeagnus ebbingei is an evergreen nitrogen fixing shrub growing to 5 m by 5 m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to UK zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from October to January, and the seeds ripen from April to May.
Plants produce very aromatic flowers in late autumn and early winter.
Plants can be grown as a hedge in very exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. The plants provide a very good protection from the wind, they are very resistant to damage by salt winds and are also tolerant of regular trimming. Because they fix atmospheric nitrogen, they make good companion plants and improve the growth of neighbouring species.
Latin Name: Elaeagnus ebbingei
Edible parts: fruit
With a reasonable sized fruit, it is about 20mm long and 13mm wide although it does have a large seed.
The fruit should be deep red in colour and very soft when it is fully ripe, otherwise it will be astringent, it has a very rich flavour, makes pleasant tasting with a slight acidity. The fruit ripens intermittently over a period of about 6 weeks from early to mid April until May.
The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.
How to plant:
They are great hedge plants, making a full and evergreen fence, and are great companion plants, they can be planted in the line of an old shelterbelt of trees that is becoming bare at the base and will in time fill up the empty spaces. They tolerate maritime exposure and grow very well in poor soils, and drought resistant.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, should be potted in July/August in a frame. They can be slow but you usually get a good percentage rooting.