Sea-buckthorn is a deciduous shrub in genus Hippophae, of the family Elaeagnaceae. The six species and twelve subspecies are native of Europe and Asia, with the world's biggest sea-buckthorn resources can be found in China, where the plant is grown for soil and water conservation purposes.

Sea-buckthorn can grow to 0.5-6 m tall, typically in dry, sandy areas. The plant is tolerant of salt in the air and soil, require full sun to grow well, but cannot tolerate shady conditions near larger trees.

Common Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is the most widespread among the species, with a range from the Atlantic coasts of Europe right across to northwestern China. It is confined to sea coasts in western Europe, where salt spray off the sea prevents other larger plants from out-competing it. In central Asia, it is more widespread in dry semi-desert sites where other plants cannot survive the dry conditions. Common sea-buckthorn has thorny branches that are dense and stiff. The leaves are lanceolate, with a distinct pale silvery-green, 3-8 cm long and less than 7 mm broad. The plant is dioecious , with separate male and female plants. The male plant produces brownish flowers which produced wind-distributed pollen, and the female plant produce orange berries 6-9 mm in diameter, soft, juicy, and rich in oils. The berries are an important winter food source for some birds, notably fieldfares.

Sea-buckthorn berries are edible and nutritious, very acidic and oily, and unpleasant to eat raw, unless frosted to reduce the astringency, and/or mixed with other type of fruit juices such as apple or grape juice. The berries have high vitamin C content, about 15 times greater than oranges, and it is one of the most enriched plant sources of vitamin C. The berries also packed with carotenoids, vitamin E, amino acids, dietary minerals, beta-sitosterol and polyphenolic acids.

When sea-buckthorn berries are pressed, the juice will separated into three layers. The top layer is a thick, orange cream. The middle layer contains high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. The bottom layer contains sediment and juice. The upper two layers contain fat sources that can be processed for skin creams and liniments, while the bottom layer can be used for edible product like syrups. Sea-buckthorn berries can also be used to make pies, jams, lotion, liquors and oil.

Harvesting is difficult due to the dense thorn arrangement among the berries on each branch. A common harvesting technique is to remove an entire branch and then freeze the whole branch, allowing the berries to be easily shaken off, but this method is destructive to the shrub. Another method is to use a berry-shaker, the most effective way to harvest berries and not damaging the branches.

Sea-buckthorn berriesSea-buckthorn berries
Author: Paul144 (public domain)

Sea-buckthorn berriesSea-buckthorn berries
Author: Hans Hillewaert (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic)

Author: Svdmolen (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Liquor, jelly, and juice made from Sea-buckthornLiquor, jelly, and juice made from Sea-buckthorn
Author: Ji-Elle (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

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