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oleaster (ōˌlēăsˈtər) [key], common name for members of the Elaeagnaceae, a family principally of shrubs with leathery leaves and a dense covering of glistening hairs. Most members of the family are steppe and rock plants of the Northern Hemisphere; a few species are indigenous to the United States. Several are cultivated as hardy ornamental shrubs, especially the buffalo berry ( Shepherdia argentea ), whose edible fruits were gathered by Native Americans and by the Alaskan Eskimos; the common oleasters ( Elaeagnus angustifolia and related species); and the sea buckthorn ( Hippophaë rhamnoides ), a native of the Old World. Oleaster is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Proteales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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