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Common name: 
5 - delicious

It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It can fix Nitrogen. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Elaeagnus multiflora
Red cherry

An easily grown plant[184], it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[11, 200]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[11, 200]. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position but succeeds in light shade[11, 200]. Very drought and wind resistant[1, 11, 200]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[160]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184], but the roots are hardy to -30°c (although top growth will be killed at this temperature). A very variable species[266], it is often cultivated for its edible fruit in Japan, there are some named varieties[3, 11, 183]. Plants can crop in 4 years from cuttings[160]. They bear heavily in Britain[11]. The synonym E. longipes is sometimes accepted as a distinct species, differing mainly in having very long peduncles about 2.5cm in length[214]. The fruit is well hidden in the shrub and is quite difficult to harvest without damaging the plant[K]. The ssp. E. multiflora ovata. (Maxim.)Servettaz. produces brown fruits on long stalks[200], would this be any easier to harvest?[K]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. Birds love the fruits[160]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. The small flowers are deliciously scented with a lilac-like smell, their aroma pervading the garden on calm days[K].

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[78]. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, though it may take 18 months[K]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help[98]. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, November in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage[78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].

[K] Ken Fern
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1] F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

[3] Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit. David and Charles 1972 ISBN 0-7153-5531-7
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.

[11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.

[15] Bryan. J. and Castle. C. Edible Ornamental Garden. Pitman Publishing 1976 ISBN 0-273-00098-5
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.

[46] Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim 1959
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.

[58] Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation) Smithsonian Institution 1965
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.

[78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.

[88] RHS. The Garden. Volume 112. Royal Horticultural Society 1987
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS. In particular, there are articles on plants that are resistant to honey fungus, oriental vegetables, Cimicifuga spp, Passiflora species and Cucurbits.

[98] Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs. 0
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.

[160] Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. 0
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.

[177] Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books 1984 ISBN 3874292169
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.

[182] Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray 1992 ISBN 0-7195-5043-2
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.

[183] Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications 1990 ISBN 0-9628087-0-9
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.

[184] Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books 1989 ISBN 0-330-30258-2
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[214] Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994. Royal Horticultural Society 1994 ISBN 1352-4186
A quarterly magazine, it has articles on Himalayacalamus hookerianus, hardy Euphorbias and an excellent article on Hippophae spp.

[218] Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. 1985 ISBN 0-917256-20-4
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.

[266] Flora of China 1994
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.