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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1

    Red face Overgrown Russian Olive

    A friend of mine has a very large, what dhe calls a Russian Olive. I loooked it up and it seems right. This one, or actually three together, is over ten feet tall, twenty feet diameter, and very full and dense. It is so dense that it is actually dieng slowly from the inside where it doesn't get enough sun. I suggested removing one within the group that is toast, and pruning. Any ideas? I am very new to this forum thing so I appologize if I am out of place.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,158

    Default Re: Overgrown Russian Olive

    I've had some experience with russian olives & of the 12 I had I've gotten rid of all of them. Between the thorns that punctured my tractor tires & the fungus that seemed to attack the leaves every year, I decided it wasn't worth it to fight them. One or two blew down because the root system wasn't well developed. The rest I cut down. The wood is very hard & tough on chainsaw blades. The branches were a bear to chip up even. To top it off the wood is smokey & smelly and I was glad to finally burn it all up.
    So I would say thin the trees out & it may help, but eventually the tree you thin out now will be one less that will need to be cut down later. Their are lots of other more attractive and satisfying trees for a yard.
    Last edited by ed21; 04-28-2008 at 08:08 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Overgrown Russian Olive

    There are different varieties of Russian Olive, and depending upon where you live, they can be wonderful. In Wyoming they are used extensively for windbreaks because they grow the right height, are dense enough to form a thicket, overwinter, and do not require extra water in a mile-high sage desert. Birds love them. If your friend's is too dense, rather than trying to cut out an entire tree, I suggest you prune out up to 1/3 of the material on each tree, just as you would for junipers or other evergreens (Roger Cook shows how to do this on video on the TOH site). If they are still too thick, next year prune out another 1/3.

    Personally, I have a tender spot for these little trees. I love how their leaves turn in the wind, grey-green on one side, silver on the other. They have pretty little white flowers in spring, smell good, and birds love both the cover and the fruits they provide. For a xeriscape tree, if one has room, they are pretty wonderful. best, M

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,158

    Default Re: Overgrown Russian Olive

    I have to say that for a while I did enjoy the trees. The silver grey leaves were attractive & unusual. Maybe the east coast weather didn't agree with them, since the fruit always turned black & shriveled. The thorns that developed were nasty & don't belong as a yard tree. I could see them as a part of a windbreak since they get thick & dense. Just not in a place that needs cutting or using.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Overgrown Russian Olive

    The only variety I've been able to find which has (reputedly) very small thorns is a Canadian variety, Red King, I think, or maybe King Red as I tend to invert names. Less than 30' at mature height. best, M.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    132

    Default Re: Overgrown Russian Olive

    I have Russian Olives in my back yard, too - they make a nice little 'grove' with the other trees in there. One of the other trees is probably the biggest whatever it is in the universe (flowers like little honeysuckle flowers) ...
    my russian olives don't have thorns. Beautiful leaves, interesting branch structure when thinned.
    I have to thin them to keep them in line.... had the tree guys 'clean them up' once, now the ice storms and my hand saw help keep them in shape.
    I want to leave them because the hummingbirds seem to like to hang out in 'em.
    You just have to keep them trimmed out and you have to keep after the new sprouts on the old branches. They're growes, those russian olives, and have been used not only as windbreaks, but as very effective hedges. big, full hedges.

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