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Posted on: February 1, 2024

Weed of the Month: Russian Olive

Russian Olive

Russian Olive is an invasive, non-native tree that grows 10 to 35 feet tall. Its leaves grow alternately, and are 1-4 inches long, toothless and slender, and pointed at the tip with silvery white scales on both sides, the upper side dull green in color. Branches sometimes have thorns, and bark is shiny and reddish-brown in color. Older bark is gray, rough, and sometimes peels.

Russian Olive trees reproduce quickly, especially in disturbed areas, and can sucker from roots. It was introduced to North America in the 1800s as an ornamental and windbreak tree. Russian Olive out-competes native trees with its ability to draw a significant amount of water from its surrounding area, especially along waterways. 

Control methods for Russian Olive:

  • Pulling: Best done when trees are small - 1” in diameter or less.
  • Cutting and herbicide treatment: Best used on large trees in the fall, but can be done any time after spring sap flow ceases. Cut trees close to the ground, and immediately treat the stump with herbicide. 
  • Herbicide alternatives: Cut stumps can also be covered using a Buckthorn Baggie, other dark-colored plastic bag, or similar alternative when herbicide use is not desirable. Please make sure your bag or alternative is tightly secured to the stump, and fanned out at the bottom to catch any new shoots. Leave the bag on the stump for a minimum of one year, and then remember to remove! 

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