Autumn Olive: Myth Vs. Fact


Back in the ‘70s, a beloved and well-intentioned family member planted a shrub called autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) on the old family property. At the time, this was a fairly common practice, as autumn olive was considered useful for wildlife management and as a windbreak.

Unfortunately, autumn olive is a wildly invasive plant that can quickly spread.

After having spent a large portion of the spring attempting to control the autumn olive on the property, I feel I’m an expert on the plant, and I’d like to dispel a few myths. Please enjoy the following column, which I call…

Autumn Olive: Myth Vs. Fact

MYTH: Autumn olive originated in eastern Asia.

FACT: Autumn olive originated in Hell, where it was invented by the Devil.


MYTH: Autumn olive is a “nitrogen-fixing” plant, which means it absorbs nitrogen from the air and releases nitrogenous compounds into the soil.

FACT: Autumn olive does not require nutrients like most plants do, but actually absorbs the power of mankind’s collective hatred and converts it into pure evil.


MYTH: Autumn olive can be controlled by regular pruning.

FACT: Pruning has no effect on autumn olive shrubs; in fact, after pruning an autumn olive, you will notice it is paradoxically larger than it was before. This is because autumn olive is one of the few naturally-occurring examples of “cosmic horror,” as best exemplified in the short stories of the late H.P. Lovecraft.


MYTH: An autumn olive shrub can reach maturity in as little as three years.

FACT: Autumn olive shrubs do not need to “grow” in the traditional sense, but rather appear fully-formed. When you’re outside, try and listen for a sudden sharp “popping” noise; this is the sound of air being rapidly displaced as an autumn olive instantaneously phases into existence.


MYTH: With its silvery leaves and red berries, autumn olive is a beautiful addition to your landscaping.

FACT: Imagine that you are looking at the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life. Now imagine that she is drop-kicking a puppy off the Empire State Building. Does she still look pretty to you now? Huh? DOES SHE?


MYTH: Autumn olive is perfectly harmless.

FACT: Autumn olive is the only plant that makes a conscious attempt to fall on you while you’re cutting it down. Also, it has thorns that are not visible to the naked eye until they have already embedded themselves in your hands.


MYTH: Birds like to eat autumn olive berries, and as a result, they accidentally spread the seeds all over creation.

FACT: This is true, but it’s not accidental, it’s intentional. Birds have seen what we’ve done to chickens and they’re colluding with autumn olive for revenge.


MYTH: An autumn olive can be killed by pruning it down to a stump and then painting the bark with a powerful herbicide.

FACT: You could water an autumn olive with a 55-gallon drum of Agent Orange and it would probably grow back stronger out of sheer spite.


MYTH: Autumn olive is just a plant and is therefore incapable of secretly plotting the overthrow of humanity.

FACT: Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that.



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