How to Remove Russian Olive Trees


First imported to the U.S. in the 1830s, this vigorous legume from Eastern Europe helped control erosion and reclaim wastelands created by large-scale mining. The Russian olive's bushy thicket growth made the plant a common choice for hedges as well. Quickly escaping to the wild, Russian olive crowded out native plants and soon earned an official classification as an invasive weed. Regrowth of cut trees and new sprouts from long-lived seeds make complete elimination of Russian olive a long-term project.

Thicket Removal

Step 1

Spray small Russian olive plants with glyphosphate herbicide in early summer after leaves fully emerge. Use the pump sprayer to coat both leaf surfaces.

Step 2

Cut taller Russian olive saplings back to the ground with the chainsaw or limb loppers. Spray the freshly cut surface of the stump with glyphosphate herbicide.

Step 3

Cut Russian olive hedges or thickets to the ground after the herbicide treatment kills the top growth--seven to 10 days after application. Use caution when handling the cut bushes and saplings since the plant bears needle-like thorns.

Step 4

Mow the infested area frequently during the growing season. Don't allow leafy regrowth from stumps or roots to nourish the plants.

Step 5

Remove seedling plants by hand. Seedlings emerge in spring--leaves of Russian olive resemble the long slender leaves of willow. Pull the plants when the ground is moist to remove roots and prevent regrowth.

Step 6

Girdle large Russian olive trees in the fall by cutting away a 2-inch band of bark completely around the base of the tree. Cut the girdle with a hatchet or chainsaw, but leave the sapwood intact.

Step 7

Spray the freshly cut girdle with glyphosphate herbicide. Cut the Russian olive down the next spring and spray or clip away any shoots that sprout from the stump or roots.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves and safety goggles when clearing or hauling away Russian olive bushes and branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Glyphosphate herbicide
  • Manual pump sprayer
  • Hatchet
  • Chainsaw
  • Limb lopper
  • Lawn mower


  • USDA Weed of the Week: Russian Olive
  • Colorado State Parks: Russian Olive
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Autumn Olive and Russian Olive

Who Can Help

  • Russian Olive
Keywords: remove russian olive, spray russian olive, cut russian olive

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."