Can you eat autumn olive berries?

In this brief text, we will answer the question, “Can you eat autumn olive berries?”. We will also answer other questions related to the subject, including where you can find autumn olive berries, how to harvest, prepare, and eat them, and more.

Can you eat autumn olive berries? 

Yes, you can eat autumn olive berries. They’re sweet and pleasantly astringent. You can eat autumn olive berries raw or either in cooked form.

What is an autumn olive berry? 

Autumn olive Berry, Elaeagnus umbellata, is also known as oleaster, Japanese silverBerry, and autumn berry. It was introduced in the 1930s and was known for being a great food for wildlife in the 1950s. It is not only great for wildlife and humans, but also for birds. It produces fruits in such a large quantity that the birds carry their seeds all over the country.

Where can you find autumn olive berries? 

Autumn olive Berry is a roadside weed which is often overlooked. It was introduced from China to the USA for the purposes of combating erosion. As it has a favourable growth in poor soil, autumn olive berries can take over any overgrazed pasture spaces where it is introduced. 

It can be found in the United States, from the Eastern seaboard to Missouri, but is less commonly seen in green plains. You can also find autumn olive berries in Canada, as well as Washington and Oregon.

How can you identify autumn olive berries?

It’s not difficult to identify autumn olive berry trees, once you know what you’re looking for. These shrubs have a medium size and have many uses. Here’s how you can identify an autumn olive berry tree 


Its shrubs have leaves that are oval shaped, have a fine pointed tip, with a green colour. The top of the leaves has a darker green colour with silvery undersides. Its leaves can grow up to four inches in length, and appear from March through April, depending on the location. 


The flowers can be found in clusters of 1-7. The flowers have a pale yellow colour, have a heavy fragrance, and have a four-lobed corolla that is 1cm long. The flowers of the autumn olive berry tree are a source of nectar for bees, and insects. 


The trees are abundant in berries. When young, the fruit has a silvery colour and brown scales and changes to a deep red colour with brown and silvery speckles as it ripens in the months of September and October. The shape of the berries resembles small, tiny olives. The fruits are eaten by humans, insects, and birds. 


There’s one seed in each autumn olive Berry. The seed has a pointed end with a line running across its length.

Where to forage for autumn olive berries? 

Autumn olive berries can be found in Ontario, and in Eastern states of the USA, as well as in some northwestern and mid-western American states. Have a look at the range map of autumn olive berries, which can be found almost anywhere within their current range. 

The autumn Olive berries can grow in a variety of soils, from sands to clays, from acid to alkaline. It can also tolerate drought. The fruit is produced in the sun, so, if you want to harvest it, look for autumn olive berries in the edge habitat, especially the areas that have a lot of human disturbance as this sets the stage for colonisation by opportunistic plants.

How to harvest autumn olive berries? 

The quickest way to harvest autumn olive berries is to run your hand along with the twigs full of berries. Carry a basket in your other hand and allow the berries to fall in it. This way, you’ll be able to get lots of berries in a short time. You may end up with lots of leaves and dirt but still, this method is better than taking one autumn olive berry at a time.

How can you prepare and eat autumn olive berries? 

Autumn olive berries are juicy and sweet. You’ll definitely enjoy eating a handful of these berries. You can also add some of these in yoghurt or use them as a garnish, but if you cook autumn olive berries you can use them in many ways that you’ll be surprised. You can boil and mash them. And collect its pulp by which you can make sauces, jams and much more.


In this brief text, we answered the question, “Can you eat autumn olive berries?”. We also answered other questions related to the subject, including where can you find autumn olive berries, how to harvest, prepare, and eat them, and more.


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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.