- Written by Kevin R. Lee Kevin R. Lee
- Published: 03 November 2019 03 November 2019
Native to west Asia, this is the only transplanted olive in Canada, popular in the dry western states. Its narrow silvery leaves are made for reflecting sun light and its tap root makes it very drought hardy, seemingly made for the dry west.
A medium sized tree with small fragrant yellow flowers, itis outstanding with its silvery grey foliage. Usually a little gnarly in form , it takes naturally to the bonsai look. That and the leaf color make it a real individual.
Virtually trouble free, there is one fungus that can be bit nasty. Fortunately the tree like many others gives us early obvious signs and if noticed and dealt with the tree will be fine.
Phomopsis canker is the fungus associated with the Russian olive. Any fungus that settles on the bark of a tree that causes dead lesions through its feeding activity is called a canker. These cankers are reddish brown to black and develop small black fruiting bodies or bumps within the canker. What we first notice from a distance is the "flags " of wilted dry leaves clinging to the dying branches. This is a call for immediate action and all flagging branches should be removed back to healthy tissue. This applies to any tree .
For caution's sake, cut back about a foot, choose your pruning, site at a lateral branch below the canker and leave the side branch as the new leader. Inspect, inspect, inspect are the words I want on my grave stone and I admonish you to follow them. It is the one single necessary requirement to having health trees. People with healthy trees aren't smarter or luckier than others, they just work harder and know that uninspected trees tend to get bad things, and things tend to run away with uncared for trees.
The beautiful grey blue leaves are found on two other woody plants in our area, the sea buckthorn and the native wolf willow, which is also a member of the olive family, indeed the only native of Canada in this family. Planted together these three would make an amazing backdrop for other creativity in the garden. A word of caution -- the sea buckthorn is a prolific sucker-producing plant and if you want only one, keep the axe handy.