Sea buckthorn: Plant profile
Sea buckthorn, Common Sea Buckthorn, Sandthorn, Sallowthorn, Seaberry, Sea Berry, Draighean Mara
Europe and Asia. Fairly common around the British coast, though only native in the east. Occasionally planted inland.
Where to find Sea Buckthorn
This shrub is mostly found near the coast, often forming thickets on dunes and sea cliffs. Planted elsewhere occasionally.
When to find Sea Buckthorn
Berries summer through to autumn.
How to identify Sea Buckthorn
Sea Buckthorn is a thorny shrub growing up to 2 m tall. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped and covered on both sides with silvery scales. The branches are densely packed with small berries that vary in color from light yellow to dark orange at the end of the season. Male and female flowers appear on separate plants.
Sea Buckthorn lookalikes
The orange-coloured berries of some Pyracantha spp. may look similar to Sea Buckthorn berries at a first glance, but Pyracantha spp. are not likely to be found in the wild or in the coast. The leaf is smaller and the shape is oval, as opposite to the thin narrow leaves of Sea Buckthorn.
All about Sea Buckthorn
The shrub is exceptionally hardy, tolerates high concentrations of salt and withstands ridiculously low winter temperatures. Therefore, sea buckthorn very often prevents other larger plants from outcompeting it and creates impenetrable thickets.
Sea buckthorn has dense and stiff branches that are very thorny and have silvery-green leaves similar to those of Olive Trees. In suummer, delicate bright orange berries grow in crammed clusters.
Medicinal properties of Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn berries are a really nutritive and are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bio-active compounds. Notably, it has more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene content than carrots.
The juice is used as a component of drug supplements rich in vitamin C and it is listed as an ingredient in cosmetics used to treat skin conditions.
Culinary uses and recipes with Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn berries are extremely sour and have a flavour in between lemon and tangerine, appropiated to use as citrus fruit. Though they can be eaten raw, the berries are best cooked or combined with other ingredients to tame its flavour.
The juice make a superb salad dressing, sauces and marinades for game and fish.
Sea buckthorn berries can be preserved into jelly, syrup, honey, country wine and infused liqueur.
Safe foraging of Sea Buckthorn
Care should be taken when collecting the berries, because the shrub has big thorns.
Avoid during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
Ecological importance of Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn has been planted in coastal areas around the country because the shrub inhibits soil erosion and has nitrogen fixing properties, which helps with firming up sand dunes and providing coastal protection.
The berries provide food for wintering thrushes as they arrive from the continent in the autumn.