Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is a thorny, deciduous tree that typically grows between 10 and 25 feet tall. It’s recognizable by its long, smooth, green-gray leaves and numerous inch-long thorns. Its stems become smooth and reddish-brown with age, while mature trunk bark is gray and rigid. Russian olive produces bell-shaped, yellow flowers prior to producing clustered fruit. Each olive-shaped fruit produces one seed.
Native to Europe and western Asia, Russian olive was imported to the United States to improve wildlife habitat, protect against erosion and preserve streambanks. Now those are the same reasons driving current efforts to remove the species; if not managed properly, Russian olive can form dense stands that prevent the regrowth of desired vegetation.
The hardy tree favors moist environments but is tolerant to most conditions. Because of its ability to take over streambanks, Russian olive can alter the natural flooding regime and reduce nutrients, leading to water-quality problems.
It’s difficult to restore native plant communities where Russian olive has become well-established. Preventing establishment is critical before it grows into a bigger, more expensive, problem to control.
Individual plant treatments, such as basal cut-stump and low-volume basal applications, are an excellent method of control for Russian olive saplings and smaller trees that have grown invasively in pastures; this allows you to selectively remove individual Russian olive.
For basal cut-stump applications, prepare a mix of 25% Remedy® Ultra herbicide plus 75% commercial basal oil. Spray the outer portion of the cut surface, the sides of the stump to the soil line and any exposed roots. You can use this same herbicide-plus-oil mix for low-volume basal applications to treat Russian olive — and most other woody species — with trunks smaller than 6 inches diameter at the base of the tree. Simply apply enough spray to wet the lower 15 to 20 inches of the trunk, including the root collar. Do not spray to the point of runoff. These applications can be made year-round as long as snow or standing water do not prevent proper application.
If treating a larger area of smaller, emerging saplings, foliar applications of 2 pints of Remedy® Ultra herbicide combined with 20 fluid ounces of DuraCor® herbicide per acre can be made in the summer, when Russian olive is fully leafed out. When tank-mixing, follow all applicable use directions, precautions and limitations on the respective product labels.
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