Autumn Olive was first brought into North America in 1830 as an ornamental plant and in the 1950s when wildlife habitat was a concern Autumn Olive was recommended by the government as a choice plant to fill that need. And for a good reason too. This shrub prefers soil that is low quality and actually helps to revitalize fertility. The berries are favored by game birds like quail. And they spread the seeds.
The fruit is also edible for humans. It’s tart but sweet and used to make jams. I have eaten them raw as a trail snack but in researching for this article I learned that they are used by some people as a tomato substitute. I even noticed that the internet provides an Autumn Olive ketchup recipe. The fruit is known to be rich in lycopene as is tomatoes. I’ll leave the thrill of discovery up to reader. It won’t be hard because those who are Autumn Olive advocates are eager to share knowledge.
I have stated in the title that Autumn Olive was a forbidden fruit. The plant it highly competitive and shortly after recommending it as a good conservation shrub the government jerked away it’s endorsement and denounced Autumn Olive as an invader. I suppose that it’s true. Autumn Olive is very disease and pest resistant as well as a prolific reproducer. Many of native shrubs that compete for its niche are just squeezed out. It’s even illegal to buy or sell in some places. However, if it’s already wild in your area then don’t let it go to waste. And don’t be fooled by the name Autumn Olive. Tonight’s feature image was taken on July 3rd and the berries are already turning red.
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