home browse overview


Only one species of this predominantly Northern Hemisphere family, Elaeagnus latifolia, occurs in Australia, on streambanks and rain forest margins in north-east Queensland.

Characteristic features of the family Elaeagnaceae in Australia include:

  • shrub, scrambler or woody climber, with alternate leaves densely covered when young by silvery and brown scales which produce a metallic sheen
  • flowers with sepals only, creamy white, in racemes
  • fruit enveloped in the persistent, enlarged, orange or red, fleshy calyx tube


Evergreen shrubs, woody or herbaceous vines climbing by scrambling stems. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with stellate, non-glandular, unicellular hairs, or peltate scales. Leaves alternate and spiral, petiolate. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, lanceolate or ovate; base cuneate or attenuate; margins entire, ±flat; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate; surfaces punctate or apparently not punctate; herbaceous or leathery. All the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences axillary, consisting of dichasial cymes or solitary flowers. Bracts present. Flowers odourless, stalked. Floral disc present. Free hypanthium present. Perianth regular, of 1 whorl only or all whorls ±similar, with 4 free or fused petaloid segments, valvate in bud, bell-shaped or tubular, white or cream, without contrasting markings, membranous or succulent; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens 4, alternating with and free or at least partly fused to the perianth segments, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Anthers dorsifixed, versatile, opening inwards by longitudinal slits, 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpel 1; ovary with 1 locule. Style terminal, single and unbranched. Ovule 1, stalked or sessile; placentation basal. Fruit fleshy, indehiscent, drupe-like (pseudodrupe); the perianth on the maturing fruit rotting or liquefying. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, red or brown. Seeds 1 per fruit. Aril ?absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Elaeagnaceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 16: 13.

Australian genera of Elaeagnaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Elaeagnus triflora var. triflora (flowers and fruit)
Photo: R.Purdie R.Purdie 

Eleagnus triflora (fruit)
Photo: H.Nicholson H. & N. Nicholson