Working together to strengthen and support noxious weed management efforts in Montana.

Russian Olive

MSU Report for the Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund Advisory Council

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013


This report for the Montana Noxious Weed Management Advisory Council was assembled in compliance with the Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund Act and Administrative Rules which require an annual report from the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station and Montana State University Extension Service on current projects and future plans. This report is a compilation of major weed science research and education activities conducted by MSU over the past three years and includes highlights of funded Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund grants as well as comprehensive reporting of all weed science research products and education funding and activities.

Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund Projects 2010–2012

  • Biological Control of Common Tansy and Oxeye Daisy, Jeff Littlefield
  • Biological Control of Invasive Hawkweed and Tansy Ragwort, Jeff Littlefield
  • Biological Control of Russian Knapweed, Jeff Littlefield
  • Biological Control of Whitetop and Perennial Pepperweed,Jeff Littlefield
  • Can Biological Control and Targeted Sheep Grazing be Integrated to Suppress Spotted Knapweed?, Jeff Mosley
  • Cheatgrass Ecology and Integrated Management, Jane Mangold
  • Continental Divide Invasive Weed Barrier Zone, Kim Goodwin
  • Establishing and Monitoring Insectaries for Yellow Toadflax Biocontrol, David Weaver
  • Herbicide Resistance Extension Information for Montana Producers, William Dyer
  • Identifying and Testing Candidate Agents for Russian Olive Biocontrol, David Weaver
  • Implementing EDRR in Montana Using the INVADERS Database, Jane Mangold
  • Integration of Pathogens, Sheep, and Herbicides to Manage Cheatgrass, Fabian Menalled
  • Missouri River Watershed Coalition Coordination, Elizabeth Galli-Noble
  • Rangeland Revegetation Revisited, Jane Mangold        Saltcedar Effects on Mycorrhizal Fungal Communities and Screening of Native Species for Restoration, Erik Lehnhoff
  • Tall Buttercup Ecology and Integrated Management, Jane Mangold
  • Weed Free Borders Protection Program, Kim Goodwin
  • Weed Management Certification Program, Jane Mangold
  • Weed Seedling Identification Guide, Jane Mangold

Download a copy of the complete report 2013 MSU Annual Report to the MNWTF

MSU Research updates

Thursday, April 12th, 2012


MSU has published a weed research update.   It includes information on the following:

  • Mechanisms driving nonnative plant-mediated changes in small mammal populations and communities
  • Wild Oat Herbicide Resistance
  • Russian olive removal and revegetation
  • Impacts of saltcedar on ecosystems in Montana
  • Sulfur cinquefoil life history in northwest Montana
  • Vegetation surveys to quantify weed threats
  • Toadflax research
  • Common tansy control in natural areas

Download the MSU April 2012 Monthly Weed Post for complete details.

Best Management Practices for Montana Biology, Ecology, and Management of Russian Olive and Saltcedar

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011


NRCS Technical note MT-30;  By Jeff Combs, Biologist, NRCS, Bozeman, Montana

I. Introduction: History/Identification/Threat for Russian Olive

A. Russian Olive History: Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.) is a member of the Oleaster family. Russian olive originated on the European Continent and ranged from southern Europe to western and central Asia (Little 1961). Russian olive was introduced to the United States in the early 1900’s. Tolerant to diverse site conditions, Russian olive has been planted as an ornamental (Little 1961), and used extensively in shelterbelts in the drier regions of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains (Read 1958). In Montana, east of the Continental Divide, Russian olive trees have been used in shelterbelts, windbreaks, wildlife habitat, ornamentals and for wildlife habitat. Plants that have naturalized thrive along riparian corridors, irrigation delivery systems, pastures, saline affected areas and some wetland sites.

B. Russian Olive Identification: Russian olive is a large, thorny, perennial deciduous shrub or small tree (up to 40 feet). The leaves are alternate and simple, elliptical to lanceolate in shape, 1 to 3 inches long and ½-inch in width, scaly on the top and silvery and scaly on the bottom, dull green to gray in color. Stems may be thorny. The bark appears smooth and reddish brown to gray in younger trees and becomes unevenly rigid, wrinkled and graying in color as it matures. The fruit is berry-like, approximately ½-inch in length, dry, mealy, sweet, and edible.

C. Russian Olive Threat: Russian olive infestations threaten native plant communities in riparian areas and grasslands, as well as irrigated pastures and hay land. Russian olives have been identified along all of the watersheds in eastern Montana. Along riverine areas native cottonwood and willow species are being replaced by Russian olive through competition and succession. Russian olive grows relatively quickly and develops a dense canopy; preventing shade-intolerant native vegetation from establishing. Katz and Shafroth (2003) report that Russian olive constitutes a new functional guild; it can establish beneath the canopy of native riparian trees and can form self-replacing stands. In addition, there are selective pressures from mammals. Lesica and Miles (1999) observed that beavers select cottonwood and willow over Russian olive to forage on; providing Russian olive plants an additional competitive edge over native woody riparian vegetation.

Download the complete technical note MT-30 and attachment.

Research Report on Biological Control of the Russian Olive

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011



Russian olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia, is a shrub or small tree of Eurasian origin.  It was originally planted in North America as a horticultural plant but has started escaping from cultivation and invading riparian and other moist habitats in western North America. This report summarizes the results of investigations carried out in 2010 on the biology, host specificity and impact of potential biological control agents of Russian olive. The investigations were conducted in close collaboration with the Biotechnology and Biological Control Agency (BBCA), Rome, Italy, the Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and the University of Mashhad, Iran.

Download and read the complete report.

BLM Uses Stimulus to Remove Russian Olive

Friday, January 22nd, 2010


On January 20th, the Billings Gazette featured an article about the BLM removing Russian Olive trees.

The trees were introduced as a fast-growing, hardy tree  good for creating shelter belts, habitat and food for wildlife.  Russian Olive tree is indigenous to Europe and Asia.   It can quickly colonize in riparian areas and out compete native vegetation, interfere with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling. Read the full article about the Bureau of Land Managements efforts.

Federal Act – Salt Cedear and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Program

Monday, January 23rd, 2006


An Act to further the purposes of the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992 by directing the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation, to carry out an assessment and demonstration program to control salt cedar and Russian olive, and for other purposes.

Salt Cedar & Russian Olive Control & Demonstration Act – January 2006