Hippophae rhamnoides

Hippophae rhamnoides
Common sea-buckthorn shrub in The Netherlands
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Elaeagnaceae
Genus: Hippophae
Species: H. rhamnoides
Binomial name
Hippophae rhamnoides
Sea Buckthorn as a street tree behind Hotwalls, Old Portsmouth, UK

Hippophae rhamnoides (common sea-buckthorn) is a species of flowering plant in the family Elaeagnaceae, native to fixed dunes and sea cliffs in Europe and Asia. It is a spiny deciduous shrub. The plant is the regional flora of the Finnish region of Satakunta.

Description and biology

H. rhamnoides can grow 2–4 m (7–13 ft) high. The leaves are alternate, narrow and lanceolate, with silvery-green upper faces. It is dioecious, which means that the male and female flowers grow on different shrubs. The male inflorescence is built up of four to six flowers without petals. The female inflorescence consists normally of only one flower without petals and contains one ovary and one ovule. Male plants need to be planted near the female plants to allow fertilisation and fruit production. The oval or lightly roundish fruits grow in compact grapes varying from pale yellow to dark orange and weighing from 0.2 g to 1 g. The plant has a very developed root system that can maintain the soil on high slopes. The roots live in symbiosis with actinomycetes. This relationship permits fixation of nitrogen from the air. They also transform insoluble organic and mineral matters from the soil to more soluble states. The rhizomes sucker rapidly to produce new colonies.[1]


The Greek rhamnoides means "resembling buckthorn".[2] As the buckthorns are in a different family, and the common name sea-buckthorn can refer to more than one species, it is preferable to refer to this plant by its unique Greek name.

Flowers of a male sea-buckthorn
Flowers of a female sea-buckthorn


Hippophae rhamnoides is a native plant throughout Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to Spain and Asia to Japan and the Himalayas. It is grown as an agricultural plant in Germany,[3] France,[4] Finland, India and China. China is the largest agricultural producer.[5] The origin of the plant is Nepal and it migrated to other parts of Eurasia after the last Ice Age.


Sea Buckthorn is also cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks.[6]


The fruits of sea buckthorn are used in a wide variety of products. Due to difficult harvest conditions and long ramp-up time of 6 to 8 years buckthorn is a relatively expensive raw material.


Especially in France (southern Alps) sea buckthorn is commonly sold as fruit juice or as an ingredient in non-alcoholic and alcoholic mixed beverages. Other uses include the berries to be processed as fruit wine or into liquor as well as jam. It is the key ingredient in the official Tuscan Liqour - Spinello. Buckthorn tea is also made out of the fruits and originates from India.

The fruits have a very high vitamin C content, on average exceeding that of lemons and oranges.[7]

Use in traditional medicine

H. rhamnoides fruits have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea, juice, or syrup for treatment of infections, colds, and flu.[8]

Pharmacological activities

Various pharmacological activities such as cytoprotective, anti-stress, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, radioprotective, anti-atherogenic, anti-tumor, anti-microbial and tissue regeneration have been reported.[9]

Agricultural engineering

Buckthorn is resistant to wind and frost, tolerates salty soils and has a wide-reaching root system. It is often used to stabilize sandy locations and as a pioneering plant on regosols.[10]

Agricultural practices


Sea-buckthorn is normally planted as seedlings or sowed as seed in spring. It needs an adequate level of nutrients to produce a good yield and fruits of good quality. It responds well to phosphorus.[1] The yield depends on the exposure to light; it does not tolerate shadow. Plants are normally planted 1.o to 1.5 m apart in rows 3 to 6 m between each other. The density of the plantings varies from 500 to 3300 plants per ha.[1] AHANI et al., 2014 has produced this plants for the first time in Iran.

Plant protection

Relatively few diseases and insects are important on sea-buckthorn, but these are reported:

The disease verticillium wilt caused by Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae is widespread where sea-buckthorn is cultivated. The disease appears on trees five to eight years after planting. The infected fruits mature prematurely, dry up, and shrivel. Infected trees should be dug out and burned. For three to five years, it should not be planted at the same place. Fusarium wilt is another important disease in sea buckthorn. Fusarium spp. seems to only attack rotting and dying plants. Infected branches should be cut and burned.[11]

Also, some insects affect sea-buckthorn: aphids, thrips, two-spotted mites, and earwigs. Gall ticks, leaf rollers, gypsy moths, and comma-shaped scale also cause damage to sea-buckthorn.[11] The most damaging insect is the sea buckthorn fly. It penetrates the fruits and eats the flesh. The fruits are then unacceptable for use.[11]

Weed control

Weed control is important, especially during the early growth stages. Sea-buckthorn grows slower than weeds because it has a less vigorous root system. Weeds should be removed before planting and then controlled during the first four to five years. Mechanical and hand cultivation are both used for weed control. Cultivation should not be too deep so as to not damage the roots.[11]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Rousseau, Hélène (2002). Développement des techniques de reproduction végétative et essais de cultivars d'argousiers. Québec: Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement. pp. 1–12. ISBN 2-922851-16-8.
  2. RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4053-3296-5.
  3. Information on cultivation of buckthorn in former East Germany (German)
  4. Information on cultivation of buckthorn in Franche (fr)
  5. Information on cultivation of buckthorn in China (fr)
  6. "Hippophae rhamnoides". RHS Plant Finder. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. Hussain, Iqbal; Khan, Lajber; Marwat, Gul Akhtar; Ahmed, Nazir; Saleem, Muhammad (2008). "Comparative Study of Vitamin C Contents in Fruits and Medicinal Plants" (PDF). Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan. 30 (3): 406–9.
  8. Vogl, Sylvia; Picker, Paolo; Mihaly-Bison, Judit; Fakhrudin, Nanang; Atanasov, Atanas G.; Heiss, Elke H.; Wawrosch, Christoph; Reznicek, Gottfried; et al. (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396Freely accessible. PMID 23770053.
  9. Suryakumar, Geetha; Gupta, Asheesh (2011). "Medicinal and therapeutic potential of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.)". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 138 (2): 268–78. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.09.024. PMID 21963559.
  10. Information on growing sea buckthorn from the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association
  11. 1 2 3 4 Thomas, S.C. Li (2003). Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) : Production and Utilization. Canada: National Research Council of Canada. ISBN 0-660-19007-9.
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