What is Wrong with This Picture?
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 property. 2) 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.
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?
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).
Seedling Russian Olive on left - Velvet Touch™ on right
More Comparison Photos: Velvet Touch™ vs Seedling
4) The bark sheds providing attractive charater.
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.
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