Herb: Sea Buckthorn


Latin name: Hippophae rhamnoides


Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster Family)



Medicinal use of Sea Buckthorn:

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. Yields of around 3% of oil are obtained. 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 astringent and 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, 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. The juice is also a component of many vitamin-rich medicaments and cosmetic preparations such as face-creams and toothpastes. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to treat skin irritation and eruptions.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
6 m
(20 feet)

Flovering:
April

Habitat of the herb:

Usually found near the coast, often forming thickets on fixed dunes and sea cliffs.

Edible parts of Sea Buckthorn:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Very rich in vitamin C (120mg per 100g) and vitamin A, they are too acid when raw for most peoples tastes, though most children seem to relish them. 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 acid 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.

Other uses of the herb:

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.

Propagation of Sea Buckthorn:

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 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. 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 - 9cm 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 direct into their permanent positions and usually establish well and quickly. Layering in autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Usually found near the coast, often forming thickets on fixed dunes and sea cliffs.

Known hazards of Hippophae rhamnoides:

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

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.