Eleagnus umbellata: 12ʼ high x 12ʼ wide / full sun / zone 4
When I bought my property I was lucky enough to discover that it had masses of autumn olive bushes growing wild. They’d been planted along the roadsides by the Ministry of Transportation decades ago as erosion control; the birds ate the berries and spread the seed far and wide. I use the berries to make jam, juice, and fruit leathers. I also devour them off the bush – they’re really delicious. Each berry contains a single seed, which I normally spit out. This is a great one for a forest garden, too, as it’s also a nitrogen-fixer. Some ecologists regard this species as an invasive species, but we do not; they need full sun to thrive, so you’ll only find them in abandoned fields and well-designed gardens.