Sour Dates

They might be called russian-olives, and they might look and taste like sour, sawdusty olives, but they’re really dates, and they are weeds. They wreck ecosystems, displace native species, reduce environmental diversity, and don’t die. They have a bad rap. They look pretty great, though.

Russian-olives after the Winter


The google myth is that birds spread these things around because they love them so. Really? Look…

Russian-olives Not Eaten by Birds

I think they are spread by being spat out by birds.

 So, what is to be done? If you hack them down, they come back twice as thickly. Few weedkillers touch them. You can eat the pits, as they do in Turkey: perfect Turkish corner store snack food in a bag. You can make powerful medicines out of them. Full marks for that. You can turn their wood, if you have the patience to dry it, into beautiful small pieces with luminous grain. Or you can wander in their thickets …

Each Russian-olive Has, Like, a Zillion Seeds.

Maybe the birds think they look too good to eat. Maybe it’s because by this time of the year they have the consistency of styrofoam.

So, what’s to do? In the Roman Empire, domestic olives were frequently grafted onto russian-olives, because they’ll grow anywhere. We can’t get away with that, because the hardiest domesticated olives kick the bucket at 10 or 15 Below, and we can sure get that. But it gives me an idea. What if we were to change this ….

Wild Olives Trying to Lure the Magpies Down

Magpies are smarter than that!

… to this …

Forsythia Celebrating April in Kelowna Source

A little snooping suggests that the grafts would take. The seed problem would be gone. The thorns, too. Man, the road ditches between Peachland and Brewster would just shine with the sun. Who would need to go to Ontario to watch the maples capture the sun in October?

I think I’m going to give it a whirl. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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