Russian olive, or Elaeagnus angustifolia, is native to Europe. On other continents, it is reported as an invasive species since it crowds native vegetation out.
Here are a few maps that show the distribution of Russian olive across the planet. Also included is how to report sightings of this invasive plant.
Invasive Russian olive & native range
Native to – Asia (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
Invasive in – Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, United States
Where is Russian olive native to?
Russian Olive is native to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. It predominantly spreads along riverbeds. Here is a map that shows where it grows naturally in the wild. The green area marks the native growing area of Russian olive.
In all other regions, Russian olive has the potential of being extremely invasive. Within two or three decades, it can transform local ecosystems and wipe other native plants out.
Where has Russian olive spread so far?
In the United States
This map shows sightings of Russian olive in the United States. Every county where the plant has been reported is marked in green. It’s updated automatically thanks to the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System, hosted by the University of Georgia.
- If you notice Russian Olive in your area, you can report it to them here.
If you notice one as you walk around, report it to Canadian wildlife agencies here.
Canada also set up a good program together with horticulture stores and professional landscapers. It’s called “Plantwise“. Together, they wrote up a list of excellent shrubs that you can plant in your garden in replacement of Russian olive:
- Scouler’s Willow (Salix scouleriana)
- Weeping pear (Pyrus salicifolia)
- Wolf-willow (Elaeagnus commutata)
- Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca)
- Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)
- Sandbar willow (Salix exigua)
- Silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea)
Which US states regulate Russian Olive?
Currently, only a few states have laws that prohibit or restrict planting and sale of Russian Olive. Others are currently evaluating the risk that this plant poses. This translates into having the plant on a “watch list” of potentially invasive species.
- Even if Russian Olive isn’t yet illegal in your state, you might want to join in on efforts to control Elaeagnus angustifolia.
- Some states are still considering making laws. You can try and change things yourself by getting involved! For instance, Dennis Myhre has been working to get Russian Olive recognized as a noxious weed in Idaho state.
Here is a map, also updated daily, that shows the current legal status of Russian olive in the United States.
Read also: other trees you wouldn’t think are invasive in the United States:
- Native and invasive ranges of American Mimosa tree
- Tamarisk, the salt cedar, where it comes from and where it shouldn’t be planted
Smart tip about reporting Russian olive presence
With smartphones, it becomes increasingly easy to report Russian olive when you sight it. The EDDMapS phone app gathers GPS location data and forwards it to the agency that can best help control the weed.