Russian olive is a small tree, closely related to autumn-olive. They are both seriously invasive. Fortunately for those of us in more northern areas, Russian olive doesn't as often produce ripened berries with viable seed. Even though this has spread to the wild here in Michigan, it has not become a serious problem. Out west, its ability to produce large and deep root systems enables it to thrive along water courses, and it is a very serious problem. It can even deplete available water for other uses and plants. So never plant either of these would be olives. Russian olive has appeared in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, IA, ID, IL, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WY, AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, QC, and SK. Lenawee Co MI, 5/21/12. Silverthorn family, Elaeagnaceae.