Autumn Olive – Friend or Foe?

One of the topics that comes up when discussing our pastures is how do we control the invasive species? With no management to put pressure on them, they seem to take over our pastures. If you are in the livestock grazing business, this is not something graziers get excited about. It is a very labor intensive job keeping them out of pastures, not to mention the cost. There are an assortment of invasive species. We will be discussing autumn olive in this article. Where did it come from? Autumn Olive is native to Asia. It was brought into the Unites States for stopping erosion, making living road screens and used as ornamentals. I never saw autumn olive trees until the mid 70’s. They were not in my area. The autumn olive trees were brought into our area in Missouri by the conservation department for wildlife habitat. They have a juicy red berry that birds eat and spread everywhere they poop. The conservation department used to sell tree wildlife bundles, part of that bundle was autumn olive trees. Once they saw how invasive these trees were, they stopped selling them. It was too late, the autumn olives were here to stay. To the novice, at a distance they look like an apple tree. They don’t have thorns like a Russian olive tree, but the stiff hard spikes can still gouge through a leather glove if you are not carefu

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2 thoughts on “Autumn Olive – Friend or Foe?

  1. Great article, very helpful. I’ve heard some folks mention using it around fruit trees but this is a new way and I think a great way to use them.

  2. This is an outstanding article. I never knew so many good things about Autumn Olive.

    I’ve started working with Osage Orange and Mulberry in a similar manner, but neither of these trees are nitrogen fixing.

    Another thought came to my mind: Autumn Olive may be an ideal tree for agroforestry systems where you flank rows of high value trees (black walnuts, pecans) with Autumn olive a few years after the high value tree is planted and will stay above the Autumn olive. The Autumn Olive if grown thick will provide a screen during the years when the high value tree is venerable to browsing.

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