Wednesday, 27 August 2014 17:19

Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive

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What is Wrong with This Picture?

Hugging Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive

Tom Hugging Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive

Eleagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive) has two monstrous strikes against it.  1) It is naturally, dangerously throny.  The 2-3 inch daggers at each leaf node slices and dices skin very nicely.  Makes for a very good barrier if you don't like your neighbors cutting through your propertyWink2) It is rapidly showing up on many invasive species lists across the country. Rightly so - it will grow nearly anywhere and self propagates from seed and we stopped growing and selling it.

Russian Olive THorns

Seedling Russian Olive - nearly every leaflet is a thorn.  By our field workers, it is the most despised tree we have grown.


So why would Tom be hugging one?  Because this is the Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive introduced by the L.E. Cooke Co a number of years ago and it is vastly different for all the right reasons.

1) It is not thornless, but nearly so.  The few thorns are short and generally much softer.

Velvet Touch™.  See any thorns?

Velvet Touch™.  See any thorns?


If you look, there are a few thorns

Full disclosure: If you look, you can see a few thorns on Velvet Touch™ so cannot claim it is thornless.


2) Planted by itself, we have seen little to no seed.  Planted right beside other Eleagnus angustifolia trees that generate copious viable seed, we find very little seed and they appear to be "blanks".  A lot more watching needs to happen before we can confidently say this variety is sterile, but we are confident that it falls far below the threshold for being an invasive problem.


3) The silvery green leaves are 2-3 times the size of the noramal Russian Olive and has a soft velvety texture.  It stands out as an ornamentally attractive tree in our scion wood orchards (see last photo at bottom).

Leaf Comparison of Velvet Touch Russian Olive vs seedling

Seedling Russian Olive on left - Velvet Touch™ on right

More Comparison Photos: Velvet Touch™ vs Seedling


4) The bark sheds providing attractive charater.

Velvet Touch Russian Olive bark

Attractive bark of Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive


5) It will grow nearly anywhere.  Good from the hot deserts (drought tolerant) to USDA Zone 2.  We have shipped a lot of these into Canada.


Showy Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive (Eleagnus angustifolia 'Cooke's)

A very good looking tree

Bottom line - the Velvet Touch™ Russian Olive needs to be planted and enjoyed.

Ron Ludekens 8-28-2014

Point of Sale Page: Velvet Touch™ POS Page

Gallery of Photos of both Velvet Touch™ and the regular seedling for comparison: Eleagnus angustifolia Photo Galleries