The WALA Plant Library
Sea Buckthorn

Synonyms for Sea Buckthorn: Sallow Thorn
Scientific Name: Hippophae rhamnoides L.
Family: Elaeagnaceae


One could be forgiven for thinking that this is a plant that only occurs in Asia. The elegant, silvery-white, needle-like leaves and bright yellow to orange fruits do give sea buckthorn a rather exotic appearance. And there is some truth in the assumption, too, as the shrub is said to have come to Europe from Tibet 17,000 years ago with the ice age. But now it has made a home for itself in our part of the world where it can be found growing on sand dunes, on the banks of rivers and streams and on sunny slopes. The shrub, which can reach a height of 5 metres, has a main root which reaches deep into the earth and from which it sends out shallow side roots. This gives the sea buckthorn a good hold even on unstable ground and is the reason why it is often planted to stabilize embankments. There are male and female forms of the thorny shrub which carry small inconspicuous male or female flowers between March and May, before the leaves appear. The female flowers, which are only 5 mm across, give off a pungent odour of honey which attracts insects. However, this is not actually essential for fertilization as the wind carries the pollen from the male to the female plants. The closely packed, slightly hairy fruits, which can be as large as 1 cm, ripen in August to September.