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Russian olive a heavy drinker?

 
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Location: NW Cascadia
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Hi all,

I'm trying to do some restorative work at a friend's place in Northeast Arizona and he has quite a few natural springs and some wells that have gone dry in the last 10-20 years.  He thinks that the Russian olive trees (Elaeagnus angustifolia) are to be blamed.  They have really taken hold and can be found growing anywhere that there is water, has been water, or where there is sometimes water.  My suspicion is that this is more to do with a larger issue of things drying out around here in a big way but I was wondering if there might be any merit to the theory that Russian olives are soaking up the spring water for themselves.  

Thank you for your time!
 
pollinator
Posts: 364
Location: East tn
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Ive got autumn olive which is close I think.

It doesnt strike me as thirsty. It is a nitrogen fixer with deep roots so it has potential benefits in providing a bit of shade and improving soil. It seems to do fine in poor dry conditions, it stays green in the hottest driest weather.
 
pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: Missoula, MT
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In my experience russian olive (e angustifolia) is very drought tolerant, even as a seedling in a pot, and its fuzzy leaves suggest it doesn't loose a lot of water. It grows slowly enough, so if it is using a lot of water, where does it go?
 
pollinator
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Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
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We had Olive trees at Arcosanti they were not overly thirsty for being a fruit tree.

I would say your theory of there being other issues is probably right. I would heavily doubt the olive trees as being responsible.
 
pollinator
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I beg pardon, maybe it's just me, but when I saw the title of this (entirely fine, valid and reasonable) thread, a thousand low-grade jokes came to mind.

Yup, I'm bad. I'm going to the garden to drink vodka with the cutworms.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
pollinator
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In all seriousness, though, I feel deeply for anyone who has lost wells and springs. This speaks to a broad change in the larger landscape, rainfall patterns, seasonal flows. For those on the land, it changes everything.
 
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Russian olive is an invasive around here. I guess the size of the spring would matter. The Russian Olives will over grow everything. I'd slowly try to transition to a native selection.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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According to these guys it might not consume that much water.
https://www.usgs.gov/news/invasive-saltcedar-and-russian-olive-trees-consume-similar-amounts-water-native-cottonwoods-and

I think the water levels are going down not because of native/invasive plants but due to humans emptying the aquifers and ground waters at alarming rate.
If the invasive lowered it by 10, humans lowered it by 1,000
 
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