O Russian olive! Wherefore art thou Russian olive? (Same goes for you, Cheatgrass).


This has been my Midsummer Nightmare, dealing with two plants we all live with, and not necessarily contentedly.

This summer I removed, or I should say paid to have removed, several Russian olives. If you’ve ever encountered this rather nasty tree you’re familiar with its inch-long thorns that are far sharper and more painful than what any rosebush can offer. They are those silvery-sage-colored trees you see thriving in the dry canyons and just about anywhere else. They’re overwhelmingly pungent, especially in the spring (allergy sufferers, you know what I’m talking about). A hunter friend warns me the Russian olives along the river are tick infested, and I hear the tree doesn’t even make for good firewood.

Even now, with the trees on my property liberated from the confines of their root balls and given the business end of a chipper, Steve at Superior Tree Service has instructed me about a regular regiment of brush killer on the stumps to keep the blasted things from returning.

They could come back?

Botanists say migrating birds brought the seeds of Russian olives West (I’m positive the magpies had something to do with it), and I’m sure the Russian olive plays a beneficial role in nature’s wonder. The trees provide birds with food and habitat, and I like having birds on the property, but wouldn’t the birds prefer a nice flowering pear or sugar maple?

Cheatgrass (Drooping Brome or Foxtail)

This summer I’ve also dealt with a lot, and I mean a lot of Cheatgrass, the bane of a dog’s summer and a windfall for your veterinarian’s. My vet says it has been an especially bad summer for Cheatgrass (as a kid in Southern California, we called it foxtail). The tops of this dried, yellow-gold grass can lodge in a dog’s paw, somehow fall down into its floppy ears or snorted up a nostril, and in my Golden Retriever Sundance’s case this summer, hidden behind a tooth in her gums, of all places. Later, $300 later, after she woke up from the anesthesia, Sundance was back on her food, with less plaque and sweet breath.

That said, summer is waning. Get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. Have a good weekend.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “O Russian olive! Wherefore art thou Russian olive? (Same goes for you, Cheatgrass).

  1. Judy A

    Decided to catch up on various blogs and, unfortunately, the first word that caught my eye was “foxtails.” Being from So Cal myself, I instantly went into “Oh, no!” mode and don’t thnk I can read any more today.

  2. I so empathize/sympathize with you. We live near the gully south of 27th. It is full of Russian Olives. We hate, hate, hate them! We all are miserable when these things bloom. They don’t even smell nice, they’re not that nice to look at, and have no fruit. They’re basically very large weeds. I like to think that there were no Russian Olives until after we were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

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