PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Goumi Berry (Eleagnus multiflora)

In general, we are very excitable people when it comes to plants. When it’s a plant that is super cool looking, a prolific fruit producer, is wildly healthful, has punchy flavor, AND has a silly sounding name, we reach our tipping point and general excitement turns to passionate plant proselytizing.

It’s pronounced “GOO’mee” and why are we so excited about it? Because it is (or should be) a mainstay in any home food forest. It produces super nutritious berries with vitamins, Lycopene, Amino Acids, flavonoids, and minerals. It is a champion nitrogen fixer, making nearby plants healthier. The gazillion fragrant small yellow blooms in early spring make pollinating critters ecstatic. Our honey bees are literally all over it in May. Migrating Cedar Waxwings stop for several weeks to feast on the unripe berries but there are always plenty left once they move on.

The berries look like dark red jelly beans sprinkled with gold dust when they are ripe in mid June to mid July. Picked early, the skin is extremely tannic and the flesh is equally tart and sweet with a punchy cherry-like flavor. Harvest later and they’re less tannic and sweeter. Grey-green leaves with a silvery underside are beautiful spring through autumn.

Goumi grows to 6-8 feet high and wide and can be pruned smaller. It is related to two similar plants – Autumn Olive (Eleagnus umbellata) which does the same thing as Goumi but with smaller berries in Sept.-Oct., and Russian Olive (Eleagnus angustifolia) which is a problematic invasive and should not be sought.