General info about Fruit
Elaeagnus umbellata, also referred to as Japanese Silverberry, Umbellate Oleaster or Autumn-olive, is a species of Elaeagnus native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas east to Japan. Because airborne nitrogen can be fixed in its roots, it has the capability to grow in infertile habitats. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 4-10 m tall, with a dense, thorny crown. The leaves are alternate, 4-10 cm long and 2-4 cm wide, entire but with a waved margin they are silvery when they leaf out early in spring due to numerous tiny, scales, but turning greener above as the silvery scales wear off through the summer (unlike the related E. angustifolia, which remains silvery to leaf fall). The flowers are clustered 1-7 together in the leaf axils, fragrant, with a four-lobed pale yellowish-white 1 cm long corolla.
How to choose a ripe and fresh Fruit
The fruit is round to oval drupe 1 cm long, silvery-scaled orange ripening red dotted with silver or brown. When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible. It is small, extremely numerous, tart-tasting, and it has a chewable seed. It has been shown to have from 7 to 17 times the amount of the antioxidant lycopene that tomatoes have.
Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Fruit - raw or cooked. Juicy and pleasantly acid, they are tasty raw and can also be made into jams, preserves etc. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The fruit contains about 8.3% sugars, 4.5% protein, 1% ash. The vitamin C content is about 12mg per 100g. Mature bushes in the wild yield about 650g of fruit over 2 - 3 pickings. The harvested fruit stores for about 15 days at room temperature. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and contains a single large seed. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.
Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit
Astringent; Cancer; Cardiac; Pectoral; Stimulant.
The flowers are astringent, cardiac and stimulant. The seeds are used as a stimulant in the treatment of coughs. The expressed oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of pulmonary affections. The fruit of many members of this genus 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.
Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it makes a good informal hedge, succeeding even in very exposed positions. The plants make a reasonable wind-protecting screen, they are about as wide as they are tall. They make a good companion hedge, enriching the soil and fertilizing neighbouring plants. The wood is a good fuel.