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Sea Buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides ssp. turkestanica

Hippophae rhamnoides turkestanica (Sea Buckthorn) is a shrub which grows to a height of 6 m and a width of 2.5 m. It has a moderate growth rate. It has a hardness rating of 3. Sea Buckthorn will flower in October. The seeds ripen from March to April. 

The flowers from this plant are dioecious (each plant is either male or female, thus both genders need to be present to seed) and they are pollinated by wind.

More...

Family:

Elaeagnaceae

Habit:

Shrub

Height:

6 metres

Width:

2.5 metres

Range:

E. Asia - Himalayas.

How to Grow Sea Buckthorn in Australia

Soil Information

Sea Buckthorn will grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy), hard (clay) soil. It is not necessary for the soil to be well drained.

The soil prefers the following pH/acid levels :

  • pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
  • pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils
  • pH greater than 8, Basic soils

Sea Buckthorn prefers soils.

Ideal Planting Locations for Hippophae rhamnoides

Sea Buckthorn should not be planted in shady areas.

Planting places suited to this plant described below.

  • Grows within a woodland garden
  • Grows on a sunny edge
  • A bog garden plant

Sea Buckthorn Cultivation Details

Succeeds in most soils, including poor ones, so long as they are not too dry. Grows well by water and in fairly wet soils. Established plants are very drought resistant. Requires a sunny position, seedlings failing to grow in a shady position and mature shrubs quickly dying if overshadowed by taller plants. Does well in very sandy soils.

Plants are very tolerant of maritime exposure, though they are fairly slow growing. Although usually found near the coast in the wild, they thrive when grown inland and are hardy to about -25°C. A very ornamental plant, it is occasionally cultivated, especially in N. Europe, for its edible fruit.

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). 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 utilised by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Plants produce abundant suckers, especially when grown on sandy soils. 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. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Edible Uses*

* See disclaimer

Edible Rating: 5/5

Fruit - raw or cooked. Very rich in vitamin C (120mg per 100g) and vitamin A, but too acidic when raw for most people's tastes. Used for making fruit juice, it is high in vitamins and has an attractive aroma. It is being increasingly used in making fruit juices, especially when mixed with other fruits, because of its reputed health benefits.

The fruits of some species and cultivars (not specified) contain up to 9.2% oil. The fruit is very freely borne along the stems and is about 6 - 8mm in diameter. The fruit becomes less acidic after a frost or if cooked.

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.

Hippophae rhamnoides Medicinal Uses*

* See disclaimer

Medicinal Rating: 5/5

The twigs and leaves contain 4 - 5% tannin. They are astringent and vermifuge. 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.

This oil is used as an ointment for treating burns. 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.

The fruit is used as a tonic. The freshly-pressed juice is used in the treatment of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion etc. The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids 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.

  • Astringent - Produces contraction in living tissue, reducing the flow of secretions and discharges of blood, mucus, diarrhoea etc.
  • Cancer - Used in the treatment of cancer.
  • Cardiac - Used in the treatment of heart problems.
  • Poultice - A moist, usually warm or hot, mass of plant material applied to the skin in the treatment of burns etc.
  • Tonic - Improves general health. Slower acting than a stimulant, it brings steady improvement.
  • Vermifuge - Expels and kills internal parasites.

Sea Buckthorn Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a sunny position in a cold frame. 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 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.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June/July in a frame. Difficult. This is the easiest method of vegetative propagation. Cuttings of mature wood in autumn. Difficult. 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 7-9 cm lengths and plant them in a plastic tent with bottom heat. Rooting should take place within 2 months and they can be put in their permanent positions in the autumn.

Division of suckers in the winter. They can be planted out directly into their permanent positions and usually establish well and quickly. Layering in autumn.

Known Hazards

Some reports suggest that the fruit is poisonous, whilst it may be very acidic it is most definitely not poisonous.

Other Uses for Sea buckthorn

Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be used as a shelter hedge. It dislikes much trimming. 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. 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. The seeds contain 12-13% of a slow-drying oil. The vitamin-rich fruit juice is used cosmetically in face-masks etc.

A yellow dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow dye is obtained from the stems, root and foliage. A blackish-brown dye is obtained from the young leaves and shoots. Wood - tough, hard, very durable, fine-grained. Used for fine carpentry, turning etc. The wood is also used for fuel and charcoal.

  • Charcoal - Used for fuel, drawing, deodorant, filter, fertiliser etc.
  • Dye - Plants that provide dyes.
  • Fuel - Usually wood, plant materials that have been mentioned as being a good fuel.
  • Soil stabilisation - Plants that can be grown in places such as sand dunes in order to prevent erosion by wind, water or other agents.
  • Wood - A list of the trees and shrubs that are noted for having useful wood.

Cultivars

'' - No entries have been made for this species as yet.

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Author:

Gary Clarke

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