AskDefine | Define oleaster

Dictionary Definition

oleaster n : any of several shrubs of the genus Elaeagnus having silver-white twigs and yellow flowers followed by olivelike fruits

Extensive Definition

Elaeagnus (Silverberry or Oleaster) is a genus of about 50–70 species of flowering plants in the Elaeagnaceae. The vast majority of the species are native to temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, with one species (E. triflora) extending south into northeastern Australia, and another species (E. commutata) restricted to North America. A third species (E. angustifolia) may also be native in southeasternmost Europe, though it may be an early human introduction there.
They are deciduous or evergreen shrubs or small trees with alternate leaves. The leaves and shoots are usually covered with tiny silvery to brownish scales, giving the plants a whitish to grey-brown colour from a distance. The flowers are small, with a four-lobed calyx and no petals; they are often fragrant. The fruit is a fleshy drupe containing a single seed; it is edible in many species, though generally lacking a good flavour. Several species are cultivated for their fruit, including E. angustifolia, E. umbellata and E. multiflora (gumi). Although they are cultivated more in China than elsewhere, they are growing in popularity in the rest of the world.
E. umbellata is reputed to have a high amount of the carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene and has been shown to display antioxidant properties effective against cancer mechanisms in vitro. E. multiflora is among the nutraceutical plants that Chinese use both for food and medicine. Both berries are small, but tasty and abundant.
Elaeagnus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora elaeagnisella and The Gothic.

Selected species

Notes

oleaster in Danish: Sølvblad
oleaster in German: Ölweiden
oleaster in Spanish: Elaeagnus
oleaster in Persian: سنجد
oleaster in French: Elaeagnus
oleaster in Upper Sorbian: Dźiwi wolijowc
oleaster in Japanese: グミ (植物)
oleaster in Portuguese: Elaeagnus
oleaster in Russian: Лох (растение)
oleaster in Finnish: Hopeapensaat
oleaster in Vietnamese: Chi Nhót
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