Foraging Pittsburgh

Wild Food Walks, Workshops, & Guided Nature Hikes

Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) in flower

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autumnoliveflowerwildfoodism

Take a good look at these flowers.  Find them during your next stroll, and return in late summer/early autumn.

This is autumn olive — a deciduous shrub that produces numerous edible fruits (usually red with silver specks).  Not only are they delicious, they’re highly nutritious as well (and go great in smoothies).

autumnolivewildfoodism

One study revealed that autumn olive fruits contain up to 17 times the lycopene content compared to tomatoes (Fordham et al., 2001).  Lycopene (which almost always gets attributed to tomatoes) is a carotenoid pigment and powerful antioxidant that may protect our bodies from free radical damage, premature skin aging, DNA damage, etc.

The same study found that autumn olive fruits contain up to 10 times the beta-cryptoxanthin content compared to oranges and tangerines.  Beta-cryptoxanthin is another powerful antioxidant that can be converted to vitamin A in the body.

Autumn olive tends to be quite invasive in Pennsylvania.  Look for them in open pastures, fields, and along the edge of woodlands.  These photographs were taken about 15 miles from Pittsburgh (the flowers in May, the fruits in September). 

Sad to say you won’t find these tasty drupes in the supermarket, though the chase is more fulfilling anyway.

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Author: Adam

Wild foodist

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