Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 11, 2002
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Autumn olive is a shrub introduced from southern Europe and western and central Asia for ornamental purposes and for its fruit which is attractive to wildlife. The fruit is edible and abundant, but not commonly harvested in the United States. While investigating the possible uses for the berries of autumn olive as an additional small fruit crop, we found that the pigment from juiced fruit was insoluble in water and 95% alcohol, leading us to believe that the pigment consisted mostly of carotenoid. The fruit from several sources of autumn olive was analyzed and found to have a high concentration of lycopene. This is the first report on the carotenoid content of autumn olive, and the information may be of use to researchers in the field of human nutrition, and to the small-farm industry as a supplementary crop.
Technical Abstract: Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.) has edible fruit with a deep- red or yellow pigmentation. An analysis of the pigment in ripe fruit of five cultivars and six unnamed naturalized plants showed that they contained lycopene, B-carotene, lutein, phytofluene and phytoene. The lycopene content per 100 g ranged from 15.09 to 53.96 mg in fresh fruit from the naturalized plants and from 17.87 to 48.33 mg in fruit of the four cultivars with red-pigmented fruit. A cultivar with yellow fruit had only 0.47 mg of lycopene per 100 g fresh weight of fruit. In contrast, fresh tomato fruit, the major dietary source of lycopene, has a lycopene content per 100 g of 0.88 to 4.20 mg. Autumn olive may provide a new dietary source of lycopene and related carotenoids.