Elaeagnus umbellata is a shrub to 5 m tall, stems densely reddish-brown and silvery scaly when young becoming gray-brown scaly, new twigs thin, silvery-scaly, winter buds, narrow, silvery-scaly (Gargiullo, personal observation).
Leaves alternate, 3-7 cm long, 1-3 cm wide (Radford et al. 1968), elliptic to egg-shaped, somewhat silvery above when young, mature leaves dull green above, silvery below, usually dotted with brown scales, especially along midrib, margin often wavy.
Flowers silvery-white, ca 1 cm long, radially symmetrical, tubular, petal lobes pointed, fragrant, in small, dense, umbrella-shaped clusters along leafy stems; pollinated by insects, May-June.
Fruit at first green sprinkled with brown and silvery scales, becoming translucent-red with silvery scales; matures Sept.-Oct., 1-seeded. Dropping off the plant by early winter. Seeds bird dispersed. seeds need a cold period to germinate.
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in New York City: Frequent.
Habitat: Planted along highways, escaping and displacing native flora in scrubby, open areas. Very tolerant of dry, nutrient poor, sandy soil pH 5-7.5 (USDA, NRCS 2011) . Drought tolerant. intolerant of shade. Roots with nitrogen-fixing, actinomycetes-containing nodules (Eckardt 1995); Very salt tolerant (Dirr 1990), resprouts after burning (Eckardt 1995).
Notes: Listed as “invasive” or an “obnoxious weed” in CT, MA, NH and WV. Listed as invasive by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Douce et al. 2007) and the USDA (USDA 2007) Listed by the National Invasive Species Information Center (USDA, NISIC. 2011).