Autumn Olives, Autumnberries, or Eleagnus umbellata are one of my favorite trail treats when it comes to fall here in Michigan. This vastly overlooked wild edible is full of nutrients and is delicious at the same time! This plant grows wild in many parts of the country and is classified as an invasive species by many. Most people cut these down without realizing what they are missing out on.
WARNING: Never take my advice on wild edibles at face value. RESEARCH FOR YOURSELF! Always consult a local expert before consuming ANY wild edible plant.
HOW TO IDENTIFY
1) From a distance you may notice leaves that are silvery on one side and green on the other.
2) Upon closer inspection you will notice a tall shrub which hosts alternating leaves along the branches that contain clusters of berries
3) Leaves again, are alternating with smooth margins. I like to think the leaves are lancelike, but others have called them elliptical and oval. The leaves feature a silvery bottom side and a green top side. Leaf veins are also fairly pronounced.
4) The best way to tell if what you are looking at is Autumn Olive is to inspect the berries closely. Berries will be red with silvery flecks on them.
HOW TO EAT THEM:
Autumn Olive is a great trail treat and can be eaten right off the bush. I like to put a bunch in my mouth, squish them around, suck all the goodness off and spit out the seeds. :-)
Many people like to collect them for making fruit leather as well. I’m sure there are many ways to use them, so please, if you know of other recipes for them, please share in the comments.
Here are a few links to some great articles about Autumn Olive: