Autumn olive is a medium to large deciduous shrub. Its leaves are alternate,oval to lanceolate,untoothed and grow to 1-3 inches in length. The upper surface of the leaves is dark green to grayish-green in color, while the lower surface is covered with silvery white scales. The small, light yellow flowers are borne along twigs after the leaves have appeared early in the growing season. The fruits are small, round,juicy, reddish to pink,dotted with scales and are produced in great quantity.
Autumn olive is found in disturbed areas, along roadsides, in pastures, fields and sparse woodlands. It is often found in poor soils due to its nitrogen-fixing root nodules that allow it to tolerate poor conditions. It can also survive the effects of salt, drought and pHs as low as 4.0. However, it does not grow well in wet habitats or in dense forests.
Autumn olive exhibits prolific fruiting, rapid growth, is widely dispersed by birds and can thrive in poor soil. It has the ability to produce up to 80 pounds of fruit in a single season. When the ripe fruit is picked just before the first frost, the flavor is awesome and the fruit quite juicy. If you eat them then, the tartness will pucker your mouth, but sweetness is your reward. The flavor is reminiscent of several fruits from currants and cranberries to peaches.