Silver berry, oleaster, Russian olive, wild olive (Eng), árbol del Paraíso, panjí, cinamomo (Spa), arbre del Paradís (Cat), olibo-zumea (Baq), arvore-do-Paraíso (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The fruits of this tree are edible, sweet but somewhat bland.
The silver berry can be up to 10 m tall, has a twisted trunk and smooth red twigs, some of which end in a spiny tip, although they become greyish and very cracked with age. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, oblong-lanceolate, and are similar to those of the almond or olive tree (it is known as the Russian olive or wild olive in some areas). The margin is entire, velvety on both sides, with a greenish upper side and a very characteristic silvery underside. The flowers are small, aromatic, greenish-yellow and form a short tube ending in four lobes. The fruits are fleshy, oval, 8-15 mm long, with silver scales that are gradually shed. When mature these edible fruits are yellow or reddish, and in some places they are called "Trapisonda grapes".
This plant is very resistant to salinity, drought, and pruning, but not to excessive cold. It has nodules on its roots that house symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, meaning this tree helps to fertilise the soil. It is indifferent to substrate, but grows very well on basic, gypsiferous and somewhat saline soils, so it is a very suitable plant for restoring areas close to the coast and creating hedgerows. It is an introduced species, sometimes becoming invasive and even forming copses. On the other hand, its fruits provide a dietary supplement for many animals, especially birds.
It is native to central and southwestern Asia and southwestern Europe, although it has become established in the wild throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is common on the Iberian Peninsula, especially in Andalucía and Levante. In Madrid, the Bolitas del Airón wood along the Cañada stream, in Valdemoro, has been extensively studied. In many places this tree is grown as an ornamental or hedgerow plant in the middle of motorways and road islands, which has greatly contributed to its spread. It is included in the Atlas of invasive alien plants of Spain.