Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.
Family - Elaeagnaceae
Stems - Commonly multiple from the base but sometimes with a single trunk, to +5m tall, erect, woody. Twigs densely lepidote, silvery. New seasons growth shiny silver because of dense scales.
Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles to -1cm long, densely lepidote, with a shallow adaxial groove. Blades elliptic to lanceolate, to 8cm long, -2.5cm broad, deep green adaxially and sparsely lepidote, slivery green and densely lepidote abaxially, rounded to acute at the apex.
Inflorescence - Axillary umbels of 2-7 flowers. Pedicels to 5mm long in flower (to 12mm in fruit), densely lepidote.
Flowers - Petals absent. Sepals 4, united into a 4-lobed tube. Tube to +1cm long, whitish to pale yellow, drying yellow, 4-angled in cross section, densely lepidote. Lobes ovate, acute, 4-5mm long and broad, pubescent and white internally, lepidote externally. Stamens 4, adnate at the apex of the corolla tube. Filaments wanting. Anthers yellow, drying brown, to 2mm long. Style 1, pale green, stellate pubescent, exserted from the perianth, uncinate at the apex. Calyx tube with nectaries at the base internally. Ovary inferior, with 1 ovule, unilocular. Flowers very fragrant. Fruits globose to ovoid, 3-9mm in diameter, red.
Flowering - April - May.
Habitat - Cultivated and escaped to waste ground, roadsides, fencerows, thickets.
Origin - Native to Asia.
Other info. - This weedy species can be found escaped in a handful of Missouri counties but it will almost certainly expand its range with time. The plant is listed as a noxious weeds in many parts of North America. The fruits of this shrubby tree are quite edible and many animals help spread the seeds into the wild. The roots have nitrogen fixing nodules that enable the plant to survive in weak soils.
Photographs taken off Hwy 29, Guilford County, NC., 4-20-03, and at the Kansas City Zoo., 7-12-99.