Welcome to “Stealth Permaculture”, a series for those who, for whatever reason, can’t outwardly “do permaculture” where they are. We’ll give you lots of sneaky ideas and ways to slip useful yet pretty, plants in unbeknownst to HSAs, neighbors, miscellaneous passersby, et cetera.
Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora)
With all the attractive ornamental shrubs out there, the goumi fits right in, however it has the added benefit of making tasty little fruit that will be your secret only!
The goumi is a cousin to the much maligned and dreaded Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus Augustifolia), and some fear it may become just as “invasive” in the future. Now here’s the thing… we actually killed an Autumn Olive here at the farm. How? Dunno. The goumi shrubs are doing pretty well, and growing nicely. They haven’t set so much as a rootling out of their designated space, and haven’t shown up anywhere else on the farm. I’m going with “not so invasive”, at least for us right now. If extra plants pop up, they’ll either be kept or mown down. This is one of those “it depends” things. Do your research, and make your own decisions like a big boy.
Those berries will likely be passed by as looking poisonous to the casual observer. All red berries are poisonous, right? Yep. Sure are. Don’t make jam or mead or eat these straight off the tree. Nothing to see here; move along. They’re actually very tasty, and packed with nutrition that can’t be rivaled by any berry from the local grocery. More lycopene than tomatoes, and high in vitamins A and E, this plant has also been used in Chinese medicine.
Goumi is also a medicinal, a nitrogen fixer, and makes a good hedge planting. Pollinators love the blossoms, and ours are by the proposed location for the new bee hive. (More on that to come.)
Just the facts
Goumi (Gumi) – Elaeagnus multiflora
Zone: 5-9 (maybe 4)
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Not picky. Ours are in a mostly clay soil, but they will accept sandy and anything in between.
Drainage: moderate to well-drained
Appearance: adorable little shrub, about 8 feet tall. Pretty little bugle shaped flowers in the Spring, showy red fruit in the Summer
Stealth potential: 10 out of 10 your HSA and nosy neighbors will never know