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Shared joy is increased, shared pain is lessened.
Spider Robinson

Oleasters

Buffaloberries, Wolf Willow, Russian Olive, sea buckthorn

These are not quite desert plants. Plants for short grass prairie conditions: Marginal water, alkali or somewhat salty soil, poor conditions. This group of plants tends to have silvery foliage, narrow leaves. As a group, they tend to sucker and form thickets.

Canada Buffaloberry

Shepherdia canadensis

This is a native plant, moderately common in clearings and roadsides in the Aspen Parkland ecozone. I've seen on road sides, above the ditch bottoms, in bright sunny areas, usually on well drained soil.

Shrub, 4-10 feet tall, with Dark green leaves above, rusty brown underneath. Red berries in the fall. Berries are edible, but taste soapy.

Good for first row of shelterbelts, wildlife habitat enhancement. Low maintenance shrub.

Silver Buffaloberry

Shepherdia argentia

Similar berries, more orange than red. Silver grey foliage. Short grass prairie/Mixed grasslands native.

Both types of buffaloberry at Colorado State University

Wolf Willow

Elaeagnus commutata

Wolf willow is not a willow, but a member of the same genus as Russian olive. The leaves are grey-green, with very pale undersides, but unlike other members of this group are only about twice as long as they are wide. The leaves are not flat, but are curled and twisted. It tends to form thickets, 4 to 8 feet tall.

Wolf willow has small yellow flowers in spring, with a heavy, almost cloying scent. Some people love it, some hate it. Meet one and check before planting close to the house.

This is a native shrub in both the Aspen Parkland and mixed grassland ecozones, frequently found on dry rocky or sandy sites near rivers, and road cuts. Does not establish easily on grassy areas, but seems to need disturbed land to get started.

While most often found in open sun, it tolerates shade. I first met wolf willow on a portage upstream of Nordegg. They were scattered along the portage trail. The pale leaves looked almost luminous against the shade of mixed spruce and poplar.

In the spring Wolf willow has a small yellow flower with a very strong heavy scent. Later it has berries that are the same colour as the leaves, hence it's other name, Silverberry, causing some confusion with silver buffaloberry. Each berry has a single nut inside, brown with yellow stripes. Natives and early settlers used these decoratively. They can be eaten, but only if the option is starvation.

Russian Olive

Elaeagnus angustifolia

Wolf willows big brother. Long narrow silverly leaves, tiny yellow flowers.
Some reports of winterkill in northern Alberta. Dark brown furrowed bark.

This tree is NOT recommended for southern Alberta, as it has become invasive, particularly in creeks and rivers, where the seeds spread fast and far down stream on spring high water.

As a low care ornamental in the city or on an acreage property, it's fine.

This entire group is dioecious: male and female flowers are on separate plants. I strongly recommend only planting male clones.

Wikipedia's article on Russian Olive Colorado Plant database on Russian Olive

Sea Buckthorn

A grey green shrub with monster thorns. This is the ultimate barrier hedge if you share a boundary with an unlikable neighbour. It's also a good wildlife shrub. The berries provide food, and the thorns discourage any predator larger than a weasel.

The berries are full of antioxidants, but from experience, my hands were bleeding after half an hour. I suggest wearing biker leathers to work with this plant.

The shrub has interesting possibilities for decoration, especially if receiving visits from small grabby children. Spray painted black they would be good halloween decorations.

Buckthorn suckers. Given it's antisocial nature, it's best planted where you can mow close.

http://sftf.mirkwood.local/Trees/Leaf_Trees/Oleasters/Oleasters.html http://sftf.mirkwood.local/Trees/Leaf_Trees/Oleaster/Oleaster.html


Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.