Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called silver berry, Russian olive, or iğde in Turkish, is a species of Elaeagnus in the Elaeagnaceae family, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia to Kazakhstan to Iran to Turkey. Its English common name comes from its similarity in appearance to the olive which is from a different botanical family of plants.
Elaeagnus angustifolia is a shrub or a small tree growing to 5–7 m in height. The leaves are alternate and lanceolate, 4–9 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, with a smooth margin. Lanceolate leaves are lance shaped, they are long and narrow. The flowers are aromatic and produced in clusters of 1-3. They appear in early summer and in the fall they are followed by clusters of fruit which are small olive like drupes1-1.7 cm long and covered in orange-brown colored skin.
Elaeagnus is one of those fruits that are relegated to second class. Unless you become acquainted with them as a child you do not notice or eat them later in life. The fruit is sweet but has a mealy texture that dries out the mouth.
The shrub can fix nitrogen in its roots, enabling it to grow in bare mineral surfaces. The fixation process frees up the nitrogen atoms from their diatomic form (N2) to be used in biosynthesizing the basic building blocks necessary for growth. The hardy Elaeagnus can thus be planted in dry and nutrient poor soils to prevent soil erosion.
Elaeagnus angustifolia in Istanbul in October
I like eating this very beneficial fruit and when it is in season I look for it at green grocers. It is also a great source of food for wild life.