Wild Olive
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Wild Olive
ative Photo: Gary Thingnam
Common name: Wild Olive, Bastard Oleaster, Snake Fruit • Manipuri: ꯍꯩꯌꯥꯏ Heiyai • Assamese: মিৰিকাতেংগা Mirika-tenga, Bon-jara • Garo: Chhokhutt • Khasi: Soh-sang, Soh-khlur, Soh-chhang, Mi-soh-sang, Dieng-soh-sang • Mizo: Sarzukpui • Angami: Pecusi
Botanical name: Elaeagnus conferta    Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster family)
Synonyms: Elaeagnus javanica, Elaeagnus nepalensis, Elaeagnus arborea

Wild Olive is a sprawling shrub with axillary branches sometimes spine-tipped. It is distinct from the species found in South India, the South Indian Wild Olive. The two species can be easily distinguished by their leaves. Leaf-stalk are 5-11 mm long, leaf blade elliptic to elliptic-oblong, 4.7-11 x 2.3-4.2 cm, below with scales dense, silvery or brownish, above becoming hairless, lateral veins 5-11 per side of midrib, base rounded or wedge-shaped, margin obscurely wavy, tip shortly tapering or nearly pointed. Flowers are borne in up to 8-flowered clusters in leaf axils. Flower-stalks are 1-3 mm. In the fruiting phase the flower-stalks alongate to about 9 mm. Flowers are greenish white. silvery brown scaly. Flowers (techically calyx) are tubular, 4-angled, 4.5-9.5 mm, constricted above ovary; lobes ovate, 2-3 mm, spreading out. Stamens are inserted in the throat or on narrow annulus, protruding; filaments about 1 mm; anthers 0.8-1.2 mm, style hairy. Fruit is ellipsoid, 1.3-1.8 x 0.7-1 cm. Fruit becomes orange when ripe, is edible and somewhat acidic in taste. It is eaten with salt and also pickled. Wild Olive is found in Andaman Is., NE India, Bangladesh, China South-Central, East Himalaya, Nepal, SE Asia, Sri Lanka, and West Himalaya, at altitudes below 2100 m. Flowering: October-February.

Identification credit: Thingnam Rajshree Photographed in Imphal, Manipur.

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