Goumi (Elaeagnus Multiflora)

There are a number of varieties of elaeagnus that are considered invasive – Russian Olive (Elaeagnus augustifolia) and Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) but this variety is not. It’s a nitrogen fixer whose fruit, depending on the cultivar, ranges from tart-sweet to sweet.

It’s almost impossible to find here in Canada but a number of nurseries in the US carry it but unfortunately do not ship to Canada because of the need to obtain a phytosanitary certificate.

I stumbled across someone in Missouri who was growing goumi and raved about how prolific her tree (above) was and the sweetness of its fruit.

So I asked her if she would send me some cuttings which she agreed to do. After a week in the postal system, they arrived in slightly less than fresh condition. I cut the eight cuttings she sent me in two, dipped them in rooting hormone, and put them in sterile seed starting mix in a mini-greenhouse.

By September, only one cutting had survived but it was showing roots!!!

I potted the seedling on September 8.

While it didn’t die, neither did it do anything. When we had the first killing frost, I decided to keep it inside under fluorescent lights.

A good decision, it seems as it has just sprouted a new leaf and all the buds are looking much fatter than they were two months ago.

I also stumbled across a seed seller, Trade Wind Fruits, so I ordered seed.  I got one to germinate which is all that you need.  It did quite well but I decided to over-winter it inside.

For a full set of pictures, go here.

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38 Responses to Goumi (Elaeagnus Multiflora)

  1. Mike says:

    I’m “rooting” for your tree/bush to do well as I would love to hear more about it how well it grows for you. What a beautiful plant.

  2. Eliza says:

    Hi Mike, I’m wondering if you can elaborate a little bit more on why you don’t consider the goumi to be invasive. There are so many conflicting sources out there, I’d love to have some light shed on the subject by you. I’m in Maine and looking to give it a try, but don’t want to risk it spreading out of hand. Any further clarification would be excellent, thank you!

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Eliza,

      According to the USDA Invasive and Noxious weeds list, there are three invasive Elaeagnus varieties: Elaeagnus angustifolia or Russian Olive, Elaeagnus pungens or thorny elaeagnus or thorny olive, and Elaeagnus umbellata or autumn olive. Elaeagnus multiflora or goumi is not considered by the USDA to be invasive.

      I have mixed views about autumn olive. The fruit is fantastic and it makes a wonderful jelly. It grows in poor and disturbed soil and improves it because it is a nitrogen fixer. It grows a bit west of us on the south shore of Rice Lake and there is a fair bit of it but nothing like European Buckthorn which is also in that area. Hmmm. I’ve come up with three pluses vs the one USDA negative. I think that I would grow it but watch very carefully to see if it spreads and, if it does, how it spreads. Then I would make the decision to keep it or not to keep it.


  3. Cristian says:

    Hi Mike,
    I am so glad I found your web page! I am dreaming one day to have a similar farm/house, like Noach’s Arch. I am searching after Goumi ( E. multiflora) with my my tongue on my shoulder.
    Indeed, it is almost impossible to find here in Canada and to have it from USA is tricky.
    Would you sell me some seedlings/cuttings very similar to what you had started with? It is too late to start something this year? is is dormant by know? If I start from seedlings I may have the berries in 2 years from now. I would need about 20 cuttings ….or you may have rooted suckers all around your bush, even better (for them is does not matter about dormancy).
    Another obsession of mine: Sea buckthorn (H . rhamnoides). I just started with this. Have you ever thought about starting these fruits? It is the healthies fruit that you can grow in Canada. Do you want to bet on this? I can point you to a reliable source (one of the best cultivars you can get here in Canada, if you want to make juice, this will be excellent). Now you have my email, please feel free to contact me. It would be a nice addition to your Fruit Garden.
    Thank you kindly,
    Cristian, Dundas, On,

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Cristian,

      Yes, goumi is very difficult to find in Canada and there are only a few nurseries in the US that carry it. The plant that I grew from a seed last year has done very well and is doing even better now that it is planted. The plant that I started from a cutting is much slower and I haven’t planted it out although I will after the first killing frost when it has gone dormant. This winter, I plan to take hardwood cuttings from a number of our plants and try to root them in a bottom heated cold frame. Goumi will be one of those plants. If I can get it to root, you are more than welcome to a rooted cutting. No charge but I would hope that you help others in a similar way if the opportunity arises. I wouldn’t have anywhere near 20 but you would be able to replicate what I did any get as many as you need.

      Yes, we have sea buckthorn growing. It’s a thornless variety that I was able to get from a grower who was retiring. It’s taken a couple of years to establish but it grew well this year. I expect that it will be a few years until they fruit.


    • Pamela says:

      Hi there Cristian,
      I live just outside of Woodstock, Ontario. Just wondering how you’re making out in your search for the perfect goumi. I have seabuckthorn from Marlene Wynnick. No fruit yet, just planted them last year but they survived their first winter. Goumi is new to me…just learned about it last year. Would LOVE to get it growing here.
      Any luck with your order from Gardens North?
      Kind regards,

      • Chris says:

        Hi Pamela,
        Marlene’s Sea buckthorn is one of the best you can get in Canada. Beside, Marlene is a nice and knowledgeable person having more than 15 years of research and trials behind her cultivar. So good for you, and wait to have the first fruits.
        Regarding Goumi seeds: I got nice support from Garden North to help me germinate this seeds. I was warned that the seeds mey need 2 withers to germinate. That is 2 cold stratification and one warm to brake the dormancy. I had the stupid confidence of the beginer that I can make them germinate. I tried simultaneously various conditions, none worked yet; I used peat moss as medium; I soaked the seeds in warm water (warm not hot, maybe 40-50 C), and let them sit 24 h. From all I removed the fibrous coating completely, using a sharp needle, carefully to not pierce the hard coating underneath. On few seeds I scarified them with fine glass-paper, then placed in medium, in the fridge. On some I cut the corner of the hard-coat with nail-clipper (careful to cut just the coat not the endosperm); I placed them in the fridge I well following a cold stratification of 2 months followed by warm stratification at about 18-22C. All clipped seeds get rotten. My guess is that clipping the hard coat is working only for seeds having exclusively physical dormancy (the only thing stopping them to germinate is the hard coat; once they are wet and proper temp, they start germinating). So if you remove the fibrous coat and clip them you may with to let them at 18-22 directly (although I doubt it will work anyway).
        After 2 month in fridge, kept wet not soggy, I got them out for about 2 month: nothing happen, so I put them back to the fridge. I know, maybe the 1st cold stratification was too short, maybe the hot stratification was too short too. On a different approach, I soaked the seeds in sulfuric acid for 30 min (the same conc as used in car batteries). Of course no clipping before soaking or after; on some I removed the fibrous coat before soaking in acid, on some I just put them as they were. After that I washed them well in water, I soaked them in water changing few times the water to remove any acid traces. I placed them in the fridge in wet peat moss. 2 month cold stratification, then warm stratification at 18-22C. Nothing happen. Some seeds get rotten, Some seeds are still intact waiting for miracle to happen. After more than month at 18-22 I placed them in the fridge for 2 months. Here I am now. Mother nature is laughing at me.
        I made some observations during experiments with vegetative propagation on Seabuckthorn and other shrubs; I will try to speak with Mike about them. If this is working, the procedure may be applied to Goumi to increase the survival rate of cloning (rooting the cuts). Helping each other we can produce more Goumi, and brake this difficulties (silly in my opinion) to grow certain cultivars available in USA. I have no idea why commercial access to valuable cultivars is delayed for years in Canada (I know the story of CFIA, phytosanitary certificates, virus free tests: still not holding the water). In one year from now USA will have access to beautiful sour-cherry made by UNiv of Saskatchewan, and by then you still cannot buy any of the 3-4 cultivars of Goumi available in USA. Phytosanitary protection? Great protection.
        If my current experiments are working now, I would like to start on Goumi if Mike will accept. I need just few short branches, current or previous year growth.
        Keep posting here, work in progress.
        Best regards,

  4. Cristian says:

    Thanks Mike,

    That would be nice of you. I am already helping others with such plants: ” giving away from what you got as a gift, one can build a haven”. So you are already into sea buckthorn, I am selling cucumbers to the gardener here.
    I also ordered seeds of Goumi from Gardens North (Nova Scotia). I know that plant characteristics are not always transmitted through seeds, rather by vegetative propagation (cloning). Seeing the bush of Goumi in Missouri, yield, size of the berry and testimonials about taste, I thought that it would be nice having a granddaughter of that specimen, from your surviving seedling. Only someone who had seen and tasted from multiple shrubs can say whether there is a difference between various specimens, and which one is better. It is also true that resistance to disease is a feature that is always forgotten, and running after nice looking nice tasting improvement we don’t know what we are breeding. The time will say.
    Your Goumi did not produce suckers yet? Probably they are young still…
    I will keep an eye on your web page hoping that rooting hormones, temp tuning and Spring charm will do the trick.
    Take care,

  5. Jeff says:

    Check out Just Fruits and Exotics web site. They are located in the FL panhandle and have three cultivars of Goumi ( E. multiflora). One for zones 7 to 9 but the other two for zones 4 to 7. They ship as well.

  6. Susan says:

    Hi Mike,
    I am ordering one of these and I’m in Texas. It will get about a half day of sun—7AM to 1PM. I’m hoping this will be enough to produce fruit—I’m thinking it wouldn’t like to be on the ‘hot side’ of the house in summer when temps reach 105 or better in full sun. What would you think?
    Also, how would you dig the hole? I hear the roots spread sideways and I have light brown clay soil, so I was going to incorporate a gallon of topsoil, greensand and charcoal into the mix. I was planning on digging it 3-ft wide and one-foot deep. What do you think? Any other tips?

  7. MikeH says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m not sure how it will do in Texas. Some references say hardy from zones 4 to 7 while others say from zone 4 to 9. You’re best bet might be to ask the seller about your specific growing conditions. I don’t think that I would improve the soil too much. Goumi is a nitrogen fixer which means that it can grow in poor soils. According to Plants for a Future:

    The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
    It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

    Sorry that I couldn’t have been of more specific help to you.

    I would be interested in hearing how it does since direct experience is always better than the internet.


  8. Cristian says:

    Hi Mike,
    One maybe unusual offer:
    I would like to speak with you about some propagating techniques. I used with some success vegetative propagation using gels as rooting medium. I was curious whether you ever use it. I am living in Oakville, ON, I am interesting in sharing some techniques and observations with you. It is a long story, some readers may be interested, for others it may be a tad too cumbersome for gardening. You kindly promised that you may help me with a clone of goumi, and one way to help myself is to tell you what I tried using gel propagation; apparently unrelated, I tried to find out what you don’t have in your garden, and it is interesting, and I could give you (tough task, I know). I was planning to bring you some red orach seeds, huskap was olso in my mind until I saw that you already started with them. Either way, to use efficiently your time, here is it my landline # 289 644 1532., If you want please leave a message on how and when I can contact you. I can give you my email by phone and start from there. The gels are better to propagate soft and semi-hard wood cuttings, so this is the time of the year when some of your previous attempts should explore a new technique. It is about sharing ideas and plants/seeds.
    Best regards,

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Chris,

      I’ve used gels without success. Even if I’d had success, I’d probably try not to use it. Where we can, we try to use low tech approaches unless it’s a one-off situation.


  9. Cristian says:

    Hi Mike,
    I hope you are fine. One think leads to another: air layering today. Please check this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=SER1vZZWtwg; I think you may try this on Goumi (I know, its my obsession, forgive me for that). You can do this with a tin can, drilled at the bottom with a hole just a bit larger than the branch you want to attached to be rooted; then you cut it longitudinally in a half, fill it with peat moss ( or one of those compressed disks that are expanding upon watering), then attached it back; you may wish to fold a bit the top of the can, to not loose the water by evaporation, but allow some rain water to get in naturally (the final shape will be like a vase); if it is working you get a nice plant, probably winning one half a year worth growth at least. Since Goumi has a little resistance to rooting, I think this is a nice technique to try.
    If started in Spring time, by end of Summer it will be a good size plant, nut just a stick with leaves and buds. Curious what you say.
    Best regards,

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Chris,

      Funny should should mention air layering. Someone had given me a set of Lee Valley rooter pots a couple of years ago and I decided to try them out this year. I’ve air layered our Illinois Everbearing Mulberry, a red mulberry, a hazel and a crab. I’d like to try the goumi but the plant isn’t large enough yet. With it’s growth, it should be ready next year. I’ve got 28 softwood cuttings going so we’ll see how they turn out.


      • Cristian says:

        Yep, the Lee Valey rooter pots is just a glorified tin can from my description above (partially kidding). 28 is a good number. keep my fingers crossed. by now all of my seeds of Goumi are dead, and all attempts to buy them from Canada failed too.

  10. Hello Mike
    I am having great difficulty in locating a source for goumi along with other permaculture type plants. I have had to cobbnle together from different nurseries and suppliers to assemble my garden as well as vegatative propagation from specimens in parks and trails.
    I live in Jerseyville, ont. (just outside Ancaster) and would greatly appreciate cuttings, seeds or any help or advice you could offer.

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Shawn,

      Yep, finding permaculture-type plants such as goumi is a tough exercise in Canada. I have two goumi plants – one is an unnamed variety that I started from seed (only 1 of 20 seeds germinated) and planted out last year. It over-wintered well and was in flower until the April frosts and snow killed them. I attempted cuttings and air layering with no success – I think this year’s drought probably through the tree into preservation mode. It has thrown up a few small suckers that I have hopes for next year. The other variety is a cultivar named Sweet Scarlett. I’m going to take root cuttings from both so that I can have rootstock for grafting more Sweet Scarlett. I also have some autumn olive growing as well which I’m going to try bud grafting Sweet Scarlett onto. The are closely related so hopefully the graft will take. If I’m successful propagating goumi, you’re more than welcome to a plant.

      Here’s a interesting list of fruits and nuts – http://stores.ebay.com/Tree-Seeds-Plus/Fruits-Edibles-/_i.html?_fsub=3604476018&_sid=20161158&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322. Given the price, the risk seems low.

      What all permaculture-type plants have you been able to collect?


  11. Jim Rodgers says:

    Native North American edible plants are far better choices for the home or farm gardeners and are no at risk of being invasion as exotics are due to natives having evolved with their natural controls. I suggest you guys in North America try a native honest plants like Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw Plum), Asimina triloba (Paw-Paw), or Dryopteris virginiana, Native (Persimmon) has my absolute favorite flavor, Vaccinium (Blue Berries) species are reported to be one of the healthiest berries to consume, or Rubus (Black berry and raspberry) species. Various Elaeagnus species are a huge problem here in the SE us. We fighting them as another Oriental Privet invader.

    • MikeH says:

      Absolutely, although goumi is not invasive. It seems that most so-called invasives prefer disturbed land. Perhaps if we disturbed the land less, invasives wouldn’t gain a toehold. Perhaps some native species will begin to be problems as a result of us disturbing or eliminating their natural controls.


      • Jim Rodgers says:

        yes the truth you offer for your area concerning exotic Elaeagnus multiflora and yes some natives are down Colonial and Aggressive, but they belong here! In other regions exotics like behave very differently. I have seen three species of Elaeagnus in Georgia occurring to have germinated in the wild. Just yesterday (9/20/12) Japanese climbing fern I found for the first time in one Co. south of me. The list can frankly go on and on and on of the exotic plant species that were once thought to not be able to germinate freely or would never get out of control. I know there is truly no hope for conservation, but I can’t help but to speak out every once in a while.

      • MikeH says:

        Are the three varieties E. angustifolium, E. pungens, E. umbellata? Certainly http://www.eddmaps.org/distribution/uscounty.cfm?sub=13997 shows no observations in Georgia. Given that there seems to be no verification process to confirm that entries are valid, one wonders about the quality of the data especially since

        This data will become the foundation for a better understanding of invasive species distribution around the world.

        and will be used by some significant organizations – http://www.eddmaps.org/about/partners.html


  12. Chris Rice says:

    “Seen growing wild in 12 states” may sound really scary but it is not the same thing as invasive. Apples grow wild in probably 40 states but would you say that they are invasive? I would dare say that anything could be seen growing wild and invasive is a matter of whether it starts to take over an environment.

  13. Hi Mike,
    I live in northern BC , zone 3, I think Goumi will grow here Our winters although just as long are a lot warmer now due to climate change, and I have reliable snow cover all winter. If you can spare a cutting I would love to try growing it inside this winter and transplanting it outside next spring.
    I’m interested in goumi because I have clay soil that it likes, the plant fixes nitrogen and produces edible berries and it is drought tolerant. It sounds ideal.
    Thanks so much.

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Melanie,

      I’ve had consistently bad luck with goumi. Seed that I bought produced only one germination. The plant did well and I planted it out only to realize last year when it flowered that it was autumn olive not goumi. Of 4 cuttings that I received, I made 16 smaller cuttings for rooting. I got one to take. After nursing it to a reasonable size with good root mass, I planted it out only to see it not survive the winter. A grafted cultivar that I got in 2012 did survive the winter but then proceeded to die. But I have goumi seeds from a friend in France currently stratifying in the fridge and I know someone who will send me scion wood next spring which I will graft onto the autumn olive. I remain stubbornly hopeful.

      If I’m lucky, I’ll have plants to share. Stay in touch.


  14. readrobread says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the info about propagating – I’m still trying to learn how, with some success over the past few years.

    For all those in Ontario trying to find Goumi – I feel your pain! After a long road, and several years of searching, and last year getting some from the US that failed, and planting seeds from Gardens North – with no results yet – I’ve finally got some selected varieties (Sweet Scarlet and Red Gem) growing in my yard! Because they are so hard to import in small quantities, I just went for it and started importing them wholesale last spring. But last spring the nursery was sold out. Finally, spring 2014, they arrived.

    I hope I’m not abusing these comments by saying: For those in Southern Ontario, I now run a small local nursery called Artemisia’s Forest Garden Nursery (google us if you’re interested). We resell some plants from the US, and also grow many medicinal herbs and perennial vegetables. It’s pick-up only (one date in the spring, and one date in the fall), but we really want to get more permaculture plants that work in our climate available here. We’re closed now (summer 2014) until the fall, but will have our inventory list back up online soon. There’s an email list on the page that you can sign up for to hear about updates. Assuming they are available, we’ll try to bring in Goumis again next spring, and likely sea buckthorns (some of the sweeter ones) as well.

    Okay – advertisement over!

    The other day I got to try my first Goumi berry – they are delicious. Very similar to autumn Olive, but much bigger, born on longer stems, and ripening much earlier in the year (these ones were from Oregon, and already well leafed out, and had flowered by the time they arrive in mid-May – I expect their normal ripening date is quite a bit later). The seeds are a also bigger than autumn olive, and I would consider spitting them, as opposed to swallowing them like I do with autumn olive. Overall – a very exciting plant that also fixes nitrogen.


  15. Luke says:

    Hi, thanks for the info! Did you treat the seed in any way to get them to germinate?

    • MikeH says:

      I tried cold stratification in vermiculite both dry and slightly moistened. I left them in the cold for months. The seeds that germinated did so in the cold.


      • Figo says:

        Hello Mike,
        Did you already got a plant out of your seedlings.
        Just got some seeds and will try to germinate them

      • MikeH says:

        I got two to germinate but couldn’t get the plants to grow. They died. Best of luck with your seeds.


  16. George Grimes says:

    my one plant of goumi here in tennessee produces between 20 and 40 pounds of fruit per yearwe have picked our first ten pounds today and expect to pick three more times this year.itnis now 7 years old and i have never seen any wild seedlings to bad for me.i will try air layering and see if i can produce new plants this way. the bush is eight feet high by eight feet wide. we are located in the smokiey mountains.

  17. Jay Jacobson says:

    George and others;
    I’m in western North Carolina at about 2700 ft. elevation and have a Goumi tree about six years old in clay soil. It is about the size and very productive with first relatively-low astringency berries just ripening now (June 6th). Though the tree is said to be self-sterile, we have only the one tree.
    I want to propagate it from cuttings and would like to know if anyone has had better success with early or late-summer or dormant cuttings? Any suggestions on propagation would be appreciated.

  18. Garden Prince / The Netherlands says:

    A Polish-Belarussian study concluded that Elaeagnus multiflora germinates best when sown as FRESH seeds first receiving a month of warmth (20 degrees Celsius/ 68 degree Fahrenheit) and then a cold stratification period of about 2 to 3 months (temp around 5 degrees C / 41 degree F). The germination rate was around 75%. FRESH seeds that received only cold stratification had a 25 % germination rate. For DRIED / OLD seeds the germination rates were much lower. DRIED / OLD seeds of Elaeagnus multiflora that were given warm and cold stratification had a 20 % germination rate, DRIED / OLD seeds that received only cold stratification had a germination rate of a mere 8.25 %. This seems to explain why so many people have little succes with getting Elaeagnus multiflora seeds to germinate as many gardening enthousiasts buy seeds that have been dried and giving them only a cold stratification.

    Something else must also be pointed out when it comes to Elaeagnus multiflora. It is very difficult to find a reliable source for buying seeds of this species. There are various sources on the internet where you can buy E. multiflora seeds but in my experience most of the time you get seeds of E. umbellata (autumn olive, invasive in the eastern parts of the USA) or E. angustifolia (Russian olive, oleaster, also invasive in parts of the USA). Also buying plants from E. multiflora is difficult as, judging by the photos, many multiflora’s seem to be in reality umbellata’s.

    The main differences between the seeds of E. multiflora and E. umbellata is that 1. seeds of E. multiflora are slightly larger than those of E. umbellata and 2. the seeds of E. multiflora have more pronounced ribs than those of E. umbellata. The website of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services has some good pictures of seeds of both species.

    For the non-botanically schooled gardener the differences between young plants of E. multiflora and E. umbellata are not easily detected. Growth habit doesn’t say much as young plants are usually cut back in nurseries to get more bushier plants. When in fruit the differences are more easily seen. The fruit of E. multiflora is bigger than that of E. umbellata and is ripening earlier (usually in July/August but this can be influenced by the climatic zone you live in). Furthermore, the fruit stalk / fruiting pedicel of E. multiflora is longer than that of E. umbellata . For E. multiflora the length of the fruit stalk is 1.5–5 cm while for E . umbellata this is around 1.2 cm. For good botanical descriptions of E. multiflora and E. umbellata check the Flora of China which can be found online.

    One last thing I want to point out is that E. multiflora is usually not self-fertile so you need 2 genetically different shrubs for a good fruit set. So your shrubs must be seed propagated or from cuttings from genetically different shrubs. Plants grown from cuttings from only one shrub are genetically identical and will usually not pollinate one another. There is only one cultivar in the trade available that is able to pollinate itself and that is Elaeagnus multiflora ‘Sweet Scarlet’.

    • MikeH says:

      Wonderful information – Germination rate of Elaeagnus multiflora Thunb. at various modes of stratification. Thank you.

      I’ve found the same success rate with fresh seeds. I saved the seeds from 4 fruit from a “Sweet Scarlet” plant and put them directly into cold stratification. All four germinated approximately 6 months later. I now have 2 thriving seedlings. I also took some semi-hardwood cuttings this summer from the “Sweet Scarlet” plant and placed them under intermittent mist ( 10 seconds on every 10 minutes from 7am to 7pm) and got two to strike roots. Unfortunately, I was forced to move them prematurely and they did not survive.

      This is one of the two seedlings.

      E. umbellata seed image source E. multiflora seed image source

      Again, thanks for the info.

      BWT, searching for лох многоцветковый returns interesting hits.


  19. Travis says:

    Whiffle tree sells them

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