You may already be growing this shrub in your garden. It is useful as a hedging shrub particularly in coastal areas where it can cope with salt-laden air. Though wind is an issue in our location this is not the key reason for selecting it.
The whole Elaeagnus family are nitrogen fixers. This means they have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and change it into a form of nitrogen that plants can use. Nitrogen is a key nutrient and nitrogen fixers can increase the growth of neighbouring plants.
This large evergreen shrub has dark green leaves with lime-green splashed centres. The small (almost invisible) creamy-white flowers pump out a jasmine like perfume from October till almost January and followed by small orange juicy berries. Even the small shrubs I’ve just planted have had an amazing scent this winter.
In our forest we have a number of these scattered through the forest for their nitrogen fixing. The berries are also worth harvesting. They are reasonable sized with a nice slightly acidic flavour once fully ripened, rich in vitamins A, C and E. The time to look out for these fruits is between April and May.
We’ve planted ours small so that they will establish themselves more quickly – so we’ll need to wait a while before we can harvest any meaningful crop. This is one shrub that has all the makings of a valuable member of our forest!