Plant Assessment Form

Elaeagnus angustifolia

Synonyms: Elaeagnus angustifolius

Common Names: Russian olive; oleaster

Evaluated on: 2/9/05

List committee review date: 11/03/2005

Re-evaluation date:


Elizabeth Brusati, project manager
California Invasive Plant Council
1442A Walnut St. #462, Berkeley, CA 94709

List committee members

Joe DiTomaso
John Randall
Carla Bossard

General Comments

No general comments for this species

Table 2. Criteria, Section, and Overall Scores

Overall Score? Moderate
Alert Status? No Alert
Documentation? 2 out of 5
Score Documentation
1.1 ?Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes B. Moderate Other Published Material
Four-part score BABD Total Score
1.2 ?Impact on plant community A. Severe Reviewed Scientific Publication
1.3 ?Impact on higher trophic levels B. Moderate Reviewed Scientific Publication
1.4 ?Impact on genetic integrity D. None Reviewed Scientific Publication
2.1 ?Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance in establishment A. Severe Reviewed Scientific Publication
Total Points
18 Total Score A
2.2 ?Local rate of spread with no management A. Increases rapidly Reviewed Scientific Publication
2.3 ?Recent trend in total area infested within state B. Increasing less rapidly
2.4 ?Innate reproductive potential
(see Worksheet A)
A. High
2.5 ?Potential for human-caused dispersal A. High
2.6 ? Potential for natural long-distance dispersal A. Frequent
2.7 ?Other regions invaded C. Already invaded
3.1 ?Ecological amplitude/Range
(see Worksheet C)
A. Widespread
Total Score B
3.2 ?Distribution/Peak frequency
(see Worksheet C)
D. Very low Reviewed Scientific Publication

Table 3. Documentation

Scores are explained in the "Criteria for Categorizing Invasive Non-Native Plants that Threaten Wildlands".

Section 1: Impact
Question 1.1 Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes? B Other Published Material
Identify ecosystem processes impacted:

Alters nutrient cycling and system hydrology by spreading througout woodland, connecting lowland riparian forests with more open, upland areas. High rate of evapotranspiration increases water loss compared to native trees. Eventually changes riparian sites into dry uplands. Dense thickets of Russian olive can increase fuel loads for wildfire (1).

Sources of information:

1. Tu, M. 2003. Element Stewardship Abstract: Eleagnus angustifola. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. Accessed online:

Question 1.2 Impact on plant community composition,
structure, and interactions?
A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify type of impact or alteration:

Forms dense monocultures. Shades out cottonwood seedlings. Over time, will replace tall cottonwood trees with shorter olive trees. Can establish over a wider range of sites than cottonwood (1). Alters the course of plant succession (2).

Sources of information:

1. Shafroth, P. B., G. T. Auble, and M. L. Scott. 1995. Germination and establishment of the native plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marshall subsp. monilifera) and the exotic Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.) Conservation Biology. 9:1169-1175
2. Tu 2003

Question 1.3 Impact on higher trophic levels? B Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify type of impact or alteration:

Has both positive and negative impacts on wildlife. Provides food and cover for some species (1, 2). In the Rocky Mountains, some riparian birds occurred frequently in monotypic Russian olive stands, but species that are obligate residents of lowland riparian tracts (northern flicker, house wren, cedar waxwing, warbling vireo, black-headed grosbeak) were absent from Russian olive stands (2). Russian olive stands supported avian communities intermediate in species richness and alpha diversity to native riparian and upslope areas (2).

Sources of information:

1. Olson, T. E., and F. L. Knopf. 1986. Naturalization of Russian-olive in the western United States. Western Journal of Applied Forestry. 1: 65-69
2. Knopf, F. L., and T. E. Olson. 1984. Naturalization of Russian-olive: Implications to Rocky Mountain wildlife. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 12 289-298.

Question 1.4 Impact on genetic integrity? D Reviewed Scientific Publication

none No native Eleagnus in California.

Sources of information:

Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual, Higher Plants of California. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA enter text here

Section 2: Invasiveness
Question 2.1 Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance
in establishment?
A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Describe role of disturbance:

Does not appear to require disturbance to establish because seeds can germinate on undisturbed soils.

Sources of information:

1. Lesica and Miles 1999

Question 2.2 Local rate of spread with no management? A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Describe rate of spread:

Can spread rapidly.

Sources of information:

1. Olson and Knopf. 1986.

Question 2.3 Recent trend in total area infested within state? B
Describe trend:

Not spreading as fast as in southwestern states.

Sources of information:

John Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Invasive Species Initiative, pers. obs.
Joe DiTomaso, Weed Science program, UC-Davis, pers. obs.

Question 2.4 Innate reproductive potential? A
Describe key reproductive characteristics:

Long-lived tree. Bears fruit at three to five years. Seeds can germinate anytime between fall and spring, and remain viable for up to three years. Can reproduce sexually or vegetatively. Seedlings are shade-tolerant. Numerous root suckers are produced at the root crown after disturbance or damage to aboveground tree from fire, cutting, or girdling (1).

Sources of information:

1. Tu 2003

Question 2.5 Potential for human-caused dispersal? A
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

Planted as a windbreak tree and for wildlife enhancement (1), as well as for erosion control and highway beautification (2). Found in Cal-IPC nursery survey 2004.

Sources of information:

1. Lesica, P., and S. Miles. 1999 Russian olive invasion into cottonwood forests along a regulated river in north-central Montana. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77:1077-1083.
2. Olson and Knopf 1986

Question 2.6 Potential for natural long-distance dispersal? A
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

Fruits dispersed by birds (1), but transport by water is probably more important because this is a riparian species (2).

Sources of information:

1. Lesica and Miles 1999
2. Joe DiTomaso, UC Davis, pers. obs.

Question 2.7 Other regions invaded? C
Identify other regions:

Naturalized in riparian areas throughout the U.S (1), primarily in western states (2). Can invade both upland and riparian bottomlands (3).

Sources of information:

1. Lesica and Miles 1999
2. Olson and Knopf 1986
3. Tu 2003

Section 3: Distribution
Question 3.1 Ecological amplitude/Range? A

Present in Inyo, Tulare, and San Diego Counties (1). Riparian areas, flood plains, grasslands, roadsides, fencerows, seasonally moist pastures, ditches, and other disturbed sites. Often inhabits seasonally moist areas and sites near farmlands. Grows under a wide range of environmental conditions, including clay, sandy, and fairly alkaline or saline soils. Grows best in inland areas with warm summers and cold winters. Tolerates drought, high water tables, and temperatures well below freezing (to -45 degrees C or -50 degrees F) to as high as 46 degrees C (115 degrees F). San Joaquin Valley, San Francisco Bay region, eastern Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, mostly to 1500 m. Western states, central states, most northeastern and eastern states, a few southern states (2).

Sources of information:

1. USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA
2. DiTomaso, J., and E. Healy. Weeds of California and Other Western States. in prep..

Question 3.2 Distribution/Peak frequency? D Reviewed Scientific Publication
Describe distribution:

Sources of information:

Worksheet A - Innate reproductive potential

Reaches reproductive maturity in 2 years or less No
Dense infestations produce >1,000 viable seed per square meter No
Populations of this species produce seeds every year. Yes
Seed production sustained over 3 or more months within a population annually No
Seeds remain viable in soil for three or more years Yes
Viable seed produced with both self-pollination and cross-pollination Yes
Has quickly spreading vegetative structures (rhizomes, roots, etc.) that may root at nodes Yes
Fragments easily and fragments can become established elsewhere No
Resprouts readily when cut, grazed, or burned Yes
Total points: 6
Total unknowns: 0
Total score: A?

Related traits:

Worksheet B - Arizona Ecological Types is not included here

Worksheet C - California Ecological Types

(sensu Holland 1986)
Major Ecological Types Minor Ecological Types Code?
Marine Systemsmarine systems
Freshwater and Estuarine lakes, ponds, reservoirs
Aquatic Systemsrivers, streams, canalsD, < 5%
Scrub and Chaparralcoastal bluff scrub
coastal scrub
Sonoran desert scrub
Mojavean desert scrub (incl. Joshua tree woodland)
Great Basin scrub
chenopod scrub
montane dwarf scrub
Upper Sonoran subshrub scrub
Grasslands, Vernal Pools, Meadows, and other Herb Communitiescoastal prairie
valley and foothill grassland
Great Basin grasslandD, < 5%
vernal pool
meadow and seepD, < 5%
alkali playaD, < 5%
pebble plain
Bog and Marshbog and fen
marsh and swamp
Riparian and Bottomland habitatriparian forest
riparian woodland
riparian scrub (incl.desert washes)D, < 5%
Woodlandcismontane woodland
piñon and juniper woodland
Sonoran thorn woodland
Forestbroadleaved upland forest
North Coast coniferous forest
closed cone coniferous forest
lower montane coniferous forest
upper montane coniferous forest
subalpine coniferous forest
Alpine Habitatsalpine boulder and rock field
alpine dwarf scrub
Amplitude (breadth): B
Distribution (highest score): D

Infested Jepson Regions

Click here for a map of Jepson regions

  • Central West
  • Great Valley
  • Northwest
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Southwest
  • Modoc Plateau
  • Sierra Nevada East
  • Desert Province
  • Mojave Desert
  • Sonoran Desert