Elaeagnus commutata

It seems I was fortunate that my early October 2008 trip to Jasper National Park occurred at peak autumn colours, as that certainly wasn’t the case this year. Most of the leaves had coloured and fallen by the time I arrived there on October 3. Still, with a bit of effort, there were photographs of plants to be had. This small landscape found at the end of the easily-accessible part of the Snaring River road intrigued me, as it isn’t often I’ve encountered such a palette of colours.

Elaeagnus commutata, or silver-berry / wolf-willow, was the dominant shrub growing on the margin of the rocky stream, a typical habitat for the species. Native to much of the northern half of North America (and extending as far south as Utah in its native range), Elaeagnus commutata has been planted elsewhere on the continent for use as a shelterbelt or erosion control, and has subsequently naturalized. Its silvery foliage also makes it attractive as an ornamental plant.

Daniel Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany book provides reference to a number of uses of silver-berry by First Nations peoples, ranging from food to drugs and fibre to jewelry. As an example of the latter, Botanical Beads of the World has an image of the seeds of Elaeagnus commutata being used in a necklace. Fibre usages include cordage (rope making) to clothing (the inner bark) to mat-making.

Elaeagnus commutata

9 responses to “Elaeagnus commutata”

  1. bev

    Though not directly related to your plant of interest, the stones in this photo reminded me of Wreck Beach near the UBC campus when i visited recently. I wish I had had a suitcase to fill with those lovely basalt and granite, perfectly formed stones on the beach – they are the kind we are charged mega bucks here in the east for our gardens and water features! A lovely feature of this clothing-optional beach. (:

  2. Keturah Witter

    Is the foliage similar all year round? I’d love to see a close-up of the leaves!

  3. Katherine

    The leaves are so white, it almost looks like a springtime photo with flowers, instead a fall photo of silvery leaves!
    Lovely.

  4. lisa z

    Beautiful photo of autumn foliage! It seems that oftentimes riparian zones, though critical to stream health, are viewed as messy or unsightly. This picture definitely proves that wrong. Thank you

  5. jane

    who needs diamonds when you can wear botanical beads of the world!

  6. Erin Clark

    http://herb.umd.umich.edu/ Thanks for including Daniel Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany, which is accessible online at the above site. At the National Museum of American Indian, we use it as a reference for our planting selections for our Piedmont native Wetland, Upland Hardwood Forest, and Meadow areas.

  7. Donald DeLano

    thanks for the great link to Botanical Beads of the World. What a wealth of information!!! And what a great photo to bring some for the ‘season’ to those of us in the semi-seasonless Southern California area.

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    silver berry has so many uses food for some moose cover for mallards and passing birds-yukon habitat for snowshoe hares big horn sheep in alberta canada
    fs/led us usda a very good site with pages of information
    thank you daniel one link leads to another fine photo bon bon

  9. Troy Mullens

    Great photo. Reminds me of an old hand-tinted glass lantern slide or hand tinted photo.

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