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Oleaster (Elaeagnus x ebbingei) - pollinators, and growing tips for berries

January ManJanuary Man Posts: 212

Hi all

We have a row of Oleaster (Elaeagnus x ebbingei) at the front of our garden which we planted last year.  We chose it to give us some privacy from the road, but also because the berries of this hedge are apparently edible.  However, we have since read that to get fruit it needs to have a different variety close by for pollination.  

I wondered if anyone knows which varieties would be a most suitable pollinator?  

Also, has anyone here who has grown this for the berries got any other tips?  We fed and looked after the hedge well after planting, but have since learnt that they fruit better when not fed and not looked after!  (Sounds ideal!)

Any thoughts, stories, or words of wisdom would be most welcomed.

Many thanks



  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,818

    Hi Max. It all rather depends on where you are living as Eleagnus flowers in the Autumn so chances of berries forming in the UK is a little problematic because of the Winter. Ebbingei flowers are hermaphrodite i.e. having male and female parts so other pollinators are not required.

    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295

    Little fruits form on mine most years but, as Ladybird says, it''s so late in the year (October at least) that they get frosted off. At least I think that's what happens to them, never seen anything ripe and ready to eat.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295

    Max, have a look at this post from Guernsey Donkey. The second plant for ID is your eleagnus and it has some berries on it still. You can guess where Guernsey Donkey lives. warmer than where I live

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • January ManJanuary Man Posts: 212

    Thanks for the helpful (and quick!) replies.  

    Doesn't seem to be a great deal of info out there on these, especially when it comes to edibility.  

    In terms of pollination, I too have now read that they are hermaphrodite.  But at the same time I have also read about the benefits of pollination between the main type Elaeagnus x ebbingei and variegated forms.  

    Hmmmm... No straight answer!  I wouldn't have a problem get some of the variegated forms except that I'm not a fan of the green/yellow aesthetic.  

  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,991

    I used to have a large Elaeagnus x ebbingei in a hedge in my garden. It grew too large and I eventually had to remove it when re-organizing the border it grew in.

    Not a terribly nice habit, not easy to control, lovely scented flowers in September, followed by tiny fruit, totally inedible (very sour).image

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,295

    I think you have a straight answer in what Ladybird said earlier. The flowers have male and female parts and don't need another different plant to pollinate them.

    The variegated versions are the same plant except for leaf colour which doesn't affect flower and fruit. If this plant needed something else to pollinate them the variegated ones wouldn't do. But it doesn't. Bees transfer the pollen from the male bits to the female bits

    They are edible in that they are not poisonous but in the UK they are unlikely to ripen.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Hi Max

    The flowers may be hermaphrodite, but they are self-fertile. So to get edible berries you need a cultivar like Eleagnus Ebbingei 'Limelight' to pollinate them. Other cultivars are available.

    I learnt this on a Forest Gardening course with Martin Crawford, which was all about growing edible plants.

    Eleagnus (deciduous and evergreen) are nitrogen fixing, so won't need feeding. They are also drought tolerant so can put up with being ignored.

    Right, back out into the garden to continue planting my Limelight. Just nipped in to Ecosia (like Googling but they turn their profit into trees) to see what ratio of pollinators you need. (Going to be 3 Limelight to 10 others.)

    Good luck!

  • Oops - I meant they are self-sterile, not self-fertile!

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