Description from Flora of China
Trees or shrubs, deciduous or evergreen; most parts with distinctive silvery or brownish peltate scales and/or stellate hairs, sometimes branches spine-tipped. Leaves alternate, opposite, or whorled; stipules absent; petiole usually present, sometimes short; leaf blade often leathery, simple, margin entire or subentire, abaxially densely stellate-hairy or peltate-scaly, pinnately veined. Flowers solitary or in clusters or short racemes, actinomorphic, bisexual, or unisexual (plants dioecious). Calyx in bisexual and female flowers tubular, 2-6(-8)-lobed, male flowers of Hippophaë of 2 membranous sepals. Petals absent. Stamens 4-8, free, adnate to calyx tube, in male flowers 2 × as many as the lobes, in bisexual flowers as many as the lobes and alternate with them. Ovary superior but tightly enclosed in differentiated basal part of calyx and apparently inferior, 1-loculed; style elongate, stigma lateral. Ovule 1, basal, anatropous. Fruit drupelike, indehiscent, enclosed in base of calyx tube and containing a single seed.
The fruits of many members of this family are edible, and some species of both Elaeagnus and Hippophaë are widely utilized and sometimes cultivated as fruit trees. They are a particularly good source of Vitamin C. Several species are also grown as ornamental garden shrubs. The roots are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen making it possible for plants to grow well on very poor soils. For this reason, some species, most notably Elaeagnus angustifolia, have been used for land reclamation.
Chang Che-yung. 1983. Elaeagnaceae. In: Fang Wen-pei & Chang Che-yung, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 52(2): 1-66.
Three genera and ca. 90 species: N temperate and tropical regions; two genera and 74 species (59 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Qin Haining (覃海宁); Michael G. Gilbert)