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Hippophae rhamnoides - L.

Common Name Sea Buckthorn, Seaberry
Family Elaeagnaceae
USDA hardiness 3-8
Known Hazards Some reports suggest that the fruit is poisonous[13, 100], whilst it may be very acid it is most definitely not poisonous[65]. Avoid during pregnancy.
Habitats Usually found near the coast, often forming thickets on fixed dunes and sea cliffs[9, 17, 244].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to Spain and Asia to Japan and the Himalayas.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Hippophae rhamnoides Sea Buckthorn, Seaberry

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Hippophae rhamnoides Sea Buckthorn, Seaberry


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Hippophae rhamnoides L. is a synonym of Elaeagnus rhamnoides (L.) A.Nelson. Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Hippophae rhamnoides is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 2.5 m (8ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


E rhamnoides. Elaeagnus rhamnoides (L.) A.Nelson.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil
Edible Uses: Oil

Fruit - raw or cooked. Very rich in vitamin C (120mg per 100g)[74] and vitamin A[183], they are too acid when raw for most peoples tastes[11, 158], though most children seem to relish them[K]. Used for making fruit juice, it is high in vitamins and has an attractive aroma[141]. It is being increasingly used in making fruit juices, especially when mixed with other fruits, because of its reputed health benefits[214]. The fruits of some species and cultivars (not specified) contain up to 9.2% oil[214]. The fruit is very freely borne along the stems[K] and is about 6 - 8mm in diameter[200]. The fruit becomes less acid after a frost or if cooked[74]. The fruit is ripe from late September and usually hangs on the plants all winter if not eaten by the birds. It is best used before any frosts since the taste and quality of frosted berries quickly deteriorates[214].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Cancer  Cardiac  Eczema  Poultice  Tonic  Vermifuge  Vitamin C

The twigs and leaves contain 4 - 5% tannin[240]. They are astringent and vermifuge[7, 100]. The tender branches and leaves contain bio-active substances which are used to produce an oil that is quite distinct from the oil produced from the fruit. Yields of around 3% of oil are obtained[240]. This oil is used as an ointment for treating burns[214]. A high-quality medicinal oil is made from the fruit and used in the treatment of cardiac disorders, it is also said to be particularly effective when applied to the skin to heal burns, eczema and radiation injury, and is taken internally in the treatment of stomach and intestinal diseases[214]. The fruit is astringent and used as a tonic[9, 254]. The freshly-pressed juice is used in the treatment of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion etc[9]. The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[214]. The juice is also a component of many vitamin-rich medicaments and cosmetic preparations such as face-creams and toothpastes[9]. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to treat skin irritation and eruptions[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Cosmetic  Dye  Fodder  Fuel  Oil  Pioneer  Soil stabilization  Wood

Very tolerant of maritime exposure[29, 49, 75, 182], it can be used as a shelter hedge. It dislikes much trimming[75]. A very thorny plant, it quickly makes an impenetrable barrier. Sea buckthorn has an extensive root system and suckers vigorously and so has been used in soil conservation schemes, especially on sandy soils. The fibrous and suckering root system acts to bind the sand[186, 244]. Because the plant grows quickly, even in very exposed conditions, and also adds nitrogen to the soil, it can be used as a pioneer species to help the re-establishment of woodland in difficult areas. Because the plant is very light-demanding it will eventually be out-competed by the woodland trees and so will not out-stay its welcome[K]. The seeds contain 12 - 13% of a slow-drying oil[240]. The vitamin-rich fruit juice is used cosmetically in face-masks etc[9]. A yellow dye is obtained from the fruit[74]. A yellow dye is obtained from the stems, root and foliage[4]. A blackish-brown dye is obtained from the young leaves and shoots[74]. Wood - tough, hard, very durable, fine-grained. Used for fine carpentry, turning etc[46, 61, 74]. The wood is also used for fuel and charcoal[146].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Other Systems: Strip intercrop  Staple Crop: Oil

Landscape Uses:Border, Seashore, Specimen. Succeeds in most soils[200], including poor ones[186], so long as they are not too dry[182, 200]. Grows well by water and in fairly wet soils[182]. Established plants are very drought resistant[186]. Requires a sunny position[3], seedlings failing to grow in a shady position and mature shrubs quickly dying if overshadowed by taller plants[186]. Does well in very sandy soils[1, 186]. Very tolerant of maritime exposure[75]. Plants are fairly slow growing[75]. Although usually found near the coast in the wild, they thrive when grown inland[11] and are hardy to about -25°c[184]. A very ornamental plant[1, 11], it is occasionally cultivated, especially in N. Europe, for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[183]. 'Leikora' is a free-fruiting form, developed for its ornamental value. Members of this genus are attracting considerable interest from breeding institutes for their nutrient-rich fruits that can promote the general health of the body (see edible and medicinal uses below)[214]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[113, 186, 200]. Plants produce abundant suckers, especially when grown on sandy soils[186]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. The sexes of plants cannot be distinguished before flowering, but on flowering plants the buds of male plants in winter are conical and conspicuous whilst female buds are smaller and rounded[11]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A clumping plant, forming a colony from shoots away from the crown but with a limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from underground runners away from the plant [1-2]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is suckering with new plants from underground runners away from the plant [2-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Other Systems: Strip intercrop  Tree crops grown in rows with alternating annual crops.
  • Staple Crop: Oil  (0-15 percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Some of these are consumed whole while others are exclusively pressed for oil. Annuals include canola, poppyseed, maize, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut. Perennials include high-oil fruits, seeds, and nuts, such as olive, coconut, avocado, oil palm, shea, pecan, and macadamia. Some perennial oil crops are consumed whole as fruits and nuts, while others are exclusively pressed for oil (and some are used fresh and for oil).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a sunny position in a cold frame[78]. Germination is usually quick and good although 3 months cold stratification may improve the germination rate. Alternatively the seed can be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring into their permanent positions. Male seedlings, in spring, have very prominent axillary buds whilst females are clear and smooth at this time[78]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June/July in a frame[200]. Difficult[113]. This is the easiest method of vegetative propagation[214]. Cuttings of mature wood in autumn[200]. Difficult[113]. The cuttings should be taken at the end of autumn or very early in the spring before the buds burst. Store them in sand and peat until April, cut into 7 - 9cm lengths and plant them in a plastic tent with bottom heat[214]. Rooting should take place within 2 months and they can be put in their permanent positions in the autumn[214]. Division of suckers in the winter. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions and usually establish well and quickly[K]. Layering in autumn[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cherkar, Chharuras, Chuma, Dhurchuk, Homoktovis, Kalabisa, Niechak, Obliyepikha, Sallowthorn, Sea berry, Sermang, Siberian pineapple, Sirma, Star bu, Tarwa chuk, Tasru, Tsarap, Tserkar, Tshogs skyur, Xiaoguoshaji, Zhu. Also known as: Ananas de Sibérie, Argasse, Argousier, Argousier Faux-Nerprun, Bourdaine Marine, Buckthorn, Chharma, Dhar-Bu, Épine Luisante, Épine Marrante, Espino Armarillo, Espino Falso, Faux Nerprun, Finbar, Grisset, Meerdorn, Oblepikha, Olivier de Sibérie, Purging Thorn, Rokitnik, Sallow Thorn, Sanddorn, Saule Épineux, Sceitbezien, Sea-Buckthorn, Seedorn, Star-Bu, Tindved.

TEMPERATE ASIA: Altay, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Ciscaucasia, Dagestan, Eastern Siberia, Gansu Sheng, Georgia, Hebei Sheng, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nei Mongol Zizhiqu, Qinghai Sheng, Russian Federation, Russian Federation, Russian Federation-Ciscaucasia, Russian Federation-Eastern Siberia, Russian Federation-Western Siberia, Shaanxi Sheng, Shanxi Sheng, Sichuan Sheng, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Siberia, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, Xizang Zizhiqu, Yunnan Sheng (northwest),Afghanistan. TROPICAL ASIA: India (northwest), Pakistan (north), EUROPE: Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom (U.K.), Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia), Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation-European part, European part, Moldova, Ukraine, Former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Italy (north), Romania, Spain (north), France,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

none Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Ralf   Sun Dec 16 15:53:21 2001

This plant is widely used in northern Germany. You can make a fantastic liquor from the fruits as well as an amazing vine (orange colored and very sweet). Jam and jelly is also produced. It is even used as an ingredient for soaps. Ralf

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Jan 29 2007

You do not say the area where you live, but this is a very hardy plant that grows as far north as Norway and certainly does not need to be grown indoors, even as a seedling. Reasonably detailed instructions for growing the plant from seed are given above on this web page. Plants can be obtained from many sources, if you are in Britain then I would suggest visiting The Plantfinder website at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp for details of nurseries that supply the plant. Chiltern Seeds at http://www.edirectory.co.uk/chilternseeds/ supply seeds.

Dyfed Lloyd Evans   Sat Nov 1 2008

Here are some recipes using sea-buckthorn fruit as a main ingredient

Celtnet Sea-buckthorn recipes collection Link to a range of recipes using sea-buckthorn

Rochelle   Wed May 20 2009

Where to get sea buckthorn in Canada.... One source for mail order seeds is Richter's Herbs in Ontario: http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X5370&cart_id=3312432.5984 You can also buy the plants mail order. T&T in Manitoba sells a collection of 3 female and 1 male plants, to assure that you will get fruit. They are sold out for 2009 but will likely carry it again next year. T&T: http://www.ttseeds.com/PHP/mcat.php?mitem=8400&mnav=3&mcat=O&mgrp=57A Good luck!

   Aug 20 2011 12:00AM

I make great use of Hippophae both Salicifolia and Rhamanoides. The season begins at the end of July blending varieties 'orange burst' and 'Hergo' with the early apples 'Irish peach' and 'Discovery'. the resulting pulp after juicing is dried as fruit leathers. I then move on to salicifolia to blend with the rest of the harvest of apples and grapes followed by the addition to breakfast cereals until the birds strip the remaining crop in January. Parallel with this is the ongoing tea harvest from the leaves of the male salicifolia which begins in July.

A blog about the cultivation of Seaberry / Seabuckthorn for personal and commercial use. Sea Buckthorn Seeds Available   Nov 2 2011 12:00AM

I love this plant and am conducting an experiment with purchased varieties and seed imported from china. If you are interested in following along the progress and sharing your stories, please stop by my Blog on the subject.
Seaberry / Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

   Dec 3 2011 12:00AM

It would be great to actually include soil requirements for each of the species. Maybe my experience is too limited, but every species I've ever viewed in the database "prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils". My experience with Hippophae rhamnoides in particular is that this is most definitely not true. I've planted more than a dozen plants on my property (northern Vermont, USA) and the only soils it 'prefers' are gravelly - perhaps this extends to sand since that seems to be the habitat (sand dunes) for wild plants I've seen along the North Sea in Germany (there the plant is known as Sanddorn - sand thorn). The two Hippophaes I planted in gravelly soil (fine gravel backfilled around my foundation for drainage) are tree-like after 4 seasons, 12 to 15 feet tall with stems 4 inches in diameter at the base. All others planted in full sun in loamy garden soil are shrub-like and still less than 4 feet tall. I wonder what experience others have had.

   Feb 20 2012 12:00AM

These plants are incredibly easy to grow, and are very tolerant of nearly all types of soil conditions. I received mine from the Canadian government as part of the prairie shelterbelt program, and am quite pleased by the way they handled their first year...despite having near drought conditions. Am looking forward to seeing how they do in year #2!

Sea Buckthorn var. Autumn Gold   Jul 18 2012 12:00AM

Variety: AC Autumn Gold A new Canadian variety of Sea Buckthorn, called AC Autumn Gold, was released earlier this year featuring larger fruit and fewer thorns to deal with when harvesting (see link for info).
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

   Jan 10 2014 12:00AM

DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW OLD THE PLANT MUST BE BEFORE IT PRODUCES FRUIT? I am getting ready to order 2 yr old plants

   Apr 5 2015 12:00AM

Growing very well in USDA zone 6 northern Utah, USA, without supplemental irrigation (12-16" rain annually), in very compacted alkaline soil. Began fruiting in 3rd year, ensure you have male & female plants. Fruit is VERY tasty, hangs well on the bush for weeks. We cut fruit-laden branches and freeze, then rap on a surface to get the berries to drop off, which is easier than navigating the thorns with hand-harvesting. We run the berries through a food mill and freeze the undiluted uncooked juice in ice cube trays for later use. Makes a very delicious morning beverage combined with plain yogurt and a bit of carrot juice for sweetening. Leaves make a nice tea and can be prepared via fermentation similar to black tea preparation. Leaves also suitable for animal forage. Our ducks enjoy them.

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