I dug up a thorny beast...what is it???

Atom#28

Shohin
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This tree was in my yard. I chopped it’s thorny ass down three years ago. It refuses to die! So I dug it up and potted it in a mica pot. Neat base, but way too many sprouts. I can deal with those later. I might keep it as a clump, or I am y even remove all of the trunks, except the largest... I imagine this might be suitable to make a @BobbyLane - inspired tree. I’ll post updates as I go :)

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Atom#28

Shohin
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I wish I had potted it about 1/2” deeper to hide the root wounds.
 

Atom#28

Shohin
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A thorny beast indeed. My best guess is silverberry, Elaeagnus pugens or one of its hybrids or cultivars.
I think you’re right. Now I get to find out if they make good bonsai material!
 

Stan Kengai

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Pyracantha would be my guess, as well. Good potential, but they can be disease prone.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Atom#28
Eastern Washington
You have real winters, zone 6b. Granted, more mild than my area, but it changes the possibilities as to what your shrubby tree is.

Just looking, I would guess you have Elaeagnus multiflora, or Elaeagnus umbellata or E. commutta. Common names are confusing, E. multiflora can be called Autumn olive, also Silverberry and some call it Goumi berry. E. umbellata is usually just called Autumn olive. E.commutata is called Silverberry or Wolf Willow. All 3 are hardy through zone 6. You would have to find a taxonomic key specific to Elaeagnus in order to separate these three species. I have no experience with E. commutata, so have no clue if it is easy to distinguish from the other two. Wikipedia was not helpful on this point.

There are 4 species of Asiatic Elaeagnus that have become invasive species across North America.

Elaeagnus pungens - the traditional Goumi Berry, also called Silverberry has been used as a planted ornamental, this one is only hardy through zone 7, into warner parts of zone 6, but does not naturalize much north of zone 7. Key trait is that it flowers in Autumn, and fruit hang all winter, ripen late spring or early summer. Fruit is bright red speckled with silvery flecks. (hence name Silverberry) Autumn flowers are fragrant, which is part of their draw, because fragrance can be noticed at a distance. Fruit is acidic, tart, with high anti-oxidant content. Leaves are pretty generic, with a slight glaucus sheen due to white powdery wax, mainly on the underside of the leaves.

Elaeagnus multiflora - Hardy through zone 6, leaves in full sun will have a distinct slight blue-ish cast to them, due to waxy coating. Key to separate from E. pungens - E. multiflora flowers in spring. To separate it from E. umbellata, fruit ripens in August. Fruit is dull brown to reddish brown, to "almost red", with heavy spotting of silver flecks. Fruit is very tart, not much flesh, seeds are soft, easily chewed and have a mild nutty flavor. Can be eaten by the handful, right off the tree. This species is native to Japan, and is one of the two species used in Japan as "Silverberry" bonsai. The other species is the Autumn flowering E. pungens, which is also used often in Japan.

Elaeagnus umbellata - Hardy through zone 5, maybe into zone 4. Widespread in the Great Lakes region, common on our family farm. Flowers in spring, fruit ripens September-October. Fruit will hang into early November. Similar fruit to E. multiflora, seed is soft, with a nutty, almost almond flavor, Not much flesh on the fruit, but it is tart, makes the mouth water. Same brown-with slight hint of red color to ripe fruit with heavy speckling of silver.

Elaeagnus angustifolia - Russian olive - This is the most cold hardy of the Elaeagnus, they have become invasive through out North America. They have been found into zone 3, will take bitter cold winters. Long, very blue looking willow leaf shaped leaves. Dark brown or black, rough, fissured bark on older specimens. Spring flowering, fruit ripe in autumn. Fruit is edible but is the least palatable of the species, almost no flesh, basically just seed.

Elaeagnus commutata - common names are Silverberry, and Wolf-Willow. This silverberry is NATIVE to North America, from Alaska, to western Minnesota. Which includes your area of eastern Washington. This is definitely a possibility. It is common enough that it is a major forage for elk and moose. It is very similar in appearance to E. multiflora and E. umbellata. I have no experience with when it flowers and ripens fruit, other than generic spring flowering and autumn fruit is ripe. This species is a definite candidate for your back yard beast, though I think E. umbellata is quite possible.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei - current name for this is E. x submacrophylla, - An ornamental hybrid with a couple cultivars, one with gold leaf edge variegation, the other with gold central leaf variegation (outside edge of leaves are normal dark green). These hybrids are pretty widely planted in the southern tier of states in USA. Probably more common in Europe. They don't produce much fruit, they have not become invasives. Usually if you find one, it was planted there by someone.

All 5 of the Elaeagnus listed above make decent bonsai. They are all shrubs to small trees. In the ground, all 5 are nitrogen fixing trees, they have all been used in soil stabilization and restoration projects before it was realized how invasive they can be. E. umbellata and E. angustifolia are the two that are most invasive. The others are only moderate to minor as invasives.

All have fragrant flowers, the fragrance carries some distance. The fruit is attractive as bonsai. The fruit is "dry" enough that it is not messy. All in all, a cool group to get into for bonsai.
 

Dav4

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@Atom#28
Eastern Washington
You have real winters, zone 6b. Granted, more mild than my area, but it changes the possibilities as to what your shrubby tree is.

Just looking, I would guess you have Elaeagnus multiflora, or Elaeagnus umbellata or E. commutta. Common names are confusing, E. multiflora can be called Autumn olive, also Silverberry and some call it Goumi berry. E. umbellata is usually just called Autumn olive. E.commutata is called Silverberry or Wolf Willow. All 3 are hardy through zone 6. You would have to find a taxonomic key specific to Elaeagnus in order to separate these three species. I have no experience with E. commutata, so have no clue if it is easy to distinguish from the other two. Wikipedia was not helpful on this point.

There are 4 species of Asiatic Elaeagnus that have become invasive species across North America.

Elaeagnus pungens - the traditional Goumi Berry, also called Silverberry has been used as a planted ornamental, this one is only hardy through zone 7, into warner parts of zone 6, but does not naturalize much north of zone 7. Key trait is that it flowers in Autumn, and fruit hang all winter, ripen late spring or early summer. Fruit is bright red speckled with silvery flecks. (hence name Silverberry) Autumn flowers are fragrant, which is part of their draw, because fragrance can be noticed at a distance. Fruit is acidic, tart, with high anti-oxidant content. Leaves are pretty generic, with a slight glaucus sheen due to white powdery wax, mainly on the underside of the leaves.

Elaeagnus multiflora - Hardy through zone 6, leaves in full sun will have a distinct slight blue-ish cast to them, due to waxy coating. Key to separate from E. pungens - E. multiflora flowers in spring. To separate it from E. umbellata, fruit ripens in August. Fruit is dull brown to reddish brown, to "almost red", with heavy spotting of silver flecks. Fruit is very tart, not much flesh, seeds are soft, easily chewed and have a mild nutty flavor. Can be eaten by the handful, right off the tree. This species is native to Japan, and is one of the two species used in Japan as "Silverberry" bonsai. The other species is the Autumn flowering E. pungens, which is also used often in Japan.

Elaeagnus umbellata - Hardy through zone 5, maybe into zone 4. Widespread in the Great Lakes region, common on our family farm. Flowers in spring, fruit ripens September-October. Fruit will hang into early November. Similar fruit to E. multiflora, seed is soft, with a nutty, almost almond flavor, Not much flesh on the fruit, but it is tart, makes the mouth water. Same brown-with slight hint of red color to ripe fruit with heavy speckling of silver.

Elaeagnus angustifolia - Russian olive - This is the most cold hardy of the Elaeagnus, they have become invasive through out North America. They have been found into zone 3, will take bitter cold winters. Long, very blue looking willow leaf shaped leaves. Dark brown or black, rough, fissured bark on older specimens. Spring flowering, fruit ripe in autumn. Fruit is edible but is the least palatable of the species, almost no flesh, basically just seed.

Elaeagnus commutata - common names are Silverberry, and Wolf-Willow. This silverberry is NATIVE to North America, from Alaska, to western Minnesota. Which includes your area of eastern Washington. This is definitely a possibility. It is common enough that it is a major forage for elk and moose. It is very similar in appearance to E. multiflora and E. umbellata. I have no experience with when it flowers and ripens fruit, other than generic spring flowering and autumn fruit is ripe. This species is a definite candidate for your back yard beast, though I think E. umbellata is quite possible.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei - current name for this is E. x submacrophylla, - An ornamental hybrid with a couple cultivars, one with gold leaf edge variegation, the other with gold central leaf variegation (outside edge of leaves are normal dark green). These hybrids are pretty widely planted in the southern tier of states in USA. Probably more common in Europe. They don't produce much fruit, they have not become invasives. Usually if you find one, it was planted there by someone.

All 5 of the Elaeagnus listed above make decent bonsai. They are all shrubs to small trees. In the ground, all 5 are nitrogen fixing trees, they have all been used in soil stabilization and restoration projects before it was realized how invasive they can be. E. umbellata and E. angustifolia are the two that are most invasive. The others are only moderate to minor as invasives.

All have fragrant flowers, the fragrance carries some distance. The fruit is attractive as bonsai. The fruit is "dry" enough that it is not messy. All in all, a cool group to get into for bonsai.
Great write up, Leo!
 

sorce

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Soon as you cut the thorns off a deer is gonna ruin it.

Keep em!

Sorce
 

shinmai

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I like a good challenge! I think I’ll just cut the spines off as I go. It was free material that I needed to remove, so I figured it’s at least a fun experiment
I think your biggest challenge will be figuring out what to remove—that tree has a lot going on. What a great foundation to begin developing! Nice find.
 

shinmai

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To follow on Leo’s post, I grew up in southeastern Montana, where winter lows can hit minus 35. Russian olive is a common shelter belt planting in eastern Montana and the western Dakota’s, because you’d be hard pressed to kill them with dynamite.
 

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