Sea Buckthorn Plant – Information On Planting Sea Buckthorn Trees

Sea Buckthorn plant (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a rare species of fruit. It is in the family Elaeagnaceae and is native to Europe and Asia. The plant is used for soil and wildlife conservation but also produces some tasty, tart (but citrusy) berries high in nutrient value. Also called Seaberry plants, Buckthorn has many species, but they all bear common characteristics. Read on for more Sea Buckthorn information so you can decide if this plant is right for you.

Sea Buckthorn Information

It is always fascinating to go to the farmer’s market and check out new and unique cultivars of fruit that can be found there. Seaberries are occasionally found whole but more often crushed into a jam. They are unusual fruits introduced to the United States in 1923.

Sea Buckthorn is hardy to USDA zone 3 and has remarkable drought and saline tolerance. Growing Sea Buckthorn is relatively easy and the plant has few pest or disease issues.

The majority of Sea Buckthorn plant’s habitat is in northern Europe, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Canada. It is a soil stabilizer, wildlife food and cover, repairs desert areas and is a source of commercial products.

Plants may grow as shrubs of less than 2 feet in height or trees of nearly 20 feet tall. The branches are thorny with silvery green, lance-shaped leaves. You need a separate plant of the opposite sex to produce flowers. These are yellow to brown and on terminal racemes.

The fruit is an orange drupe, round and 1/3 to ¼ inch long. The plant is a major food source for several moths and butterflies. In addition to food, the plant is also used to make face creams and lotions, nutritional supplements and other cosmetic products. As a food, it is commonly used pies and jams. Seaberry plants also contribute to making an excellent wine and liquor.

Growing Sea Buckthorn

Choose a sunny location for planting Sea Buckthorn trees. In low light conditions, the harvest will be scarce. They offer ornamental interest, as the berries will persist through winter.

Seaberries can form an excellent hedge or barrier. It is also useful as a riparian plant, but ensure the soil is well draining and not boggy.

The plant has an aggressive basal shoot and may sucker, so use caution when planting Sea Buckthorn trees near the home foundation or driveway. The plant is considered invasive in some regions. Check your region and make sure it is not considered an aggressive non-native species before planting.

Prune plants as needed to expose as much terminal area as possible to the sun. Keep the plant evenly moist and feed in spring with a ratio higher in phosphorus than nitrogen.

The only real insect pest is the Japanese beetle. Remove by hand or use an approved organic pesticide.

Try one of these hardy plants in your landscape for a unique new flavor and showy appearance.

Sea Berry Growing Guide

July 27, 2018 OGW Growing GuidesSea berry

It is no secret that we are huge fans of the Sea Berry here at One Green World. The deliciously tangy and nutrient dense juice is what gives our crew the energy we need to get through the busy season as well as the flu season. Its uses are many and its presence in the North American landscape is relatively small, so we decided it was finally time to shine a bit of beta-Carotene drenched light on what is so special and perhaps even magical about this plant and its fruit. Follow along in this Sea Berry Growing Guide to learn a bit of history and gain a better understanding of this wonderful plant.

The Sea Berry, also known as Sea Buckthorn, is native to Europe and Asia where it grows along riverbanks, sea shores, sandy dunes and mountain slopes from sea level all the way up to 12,000 feet. All parts of the plant have a long history of use in China and Russia where it has been wild harvested for centuries and more recently brought into commercial production. It has even made its way into a few myths and legends due to its many nutritious and medicinal qualities. The Latin name for its genus, Hippophae, translates to shiny horse in reference to its use in horse fodder. The leaves have such a high oil content that they were often mixed into horse food to produce a shiny coat on the animals. To this day they are still used in horse feeds and supplements. Some legends speak of farmers letting their old, decrepit horses out to roam the hills, thinking this far more humane than killing them. After a few days grazing on the wild Sea Berry plants that grew naturally on the hillsides, the horses would return to their owners and be mistaken for young, healthy colts with their newly shiny coats and returned vigor. It is also said that the mythic horse Pegasus feasted upon Sea Berries and it was these magical berries that gave him wings to fly. That’s about 4,000 years before energy drink companies were claiming the power of flight through their products, making Sea Berries the original energy drink! Obviously, we believe that Sea Berry juice is far superior to any other “energy” drink on the market today.

Cultivation of the Sea Berry has only come along relatively recently, beginning in Russia in the 1940’s. Scientists first began to research and discover what had long been known as folk medicine traditions. Some of the first commercially harvested Sea Berries in Russia were used in The Great Space Race, as they are believed to be very helpful in protecting humans from radiation. In preparation to leave Earth’s atmosphere, Yuri Gagarin was given an extraordinarily large dose of Sea Berries as well as a Sea Berry skin cream to protect against any potential radiation, thus making the Sea Berry the first cosmic berry!

Sea Berries were almost completely unknown to North American growers until it was introduced to Canada in the 1930’s by Dr. L. Skinner at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba. They were later planted out on the Canadian prairies by the Shelterbelt Center of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration. These hedgerows provided much of the genetic material to early North American Sea Berry researchers. The Canadians continue to plant out large shelterbelts of Sea Berries for stabilizing erodible soils, but the major developments in named fruiting cultivars have come to us from Europe and Asia, specifically in Russia.

And this is where our very own hometown hero Jim Gilbert, the founder of One Green World, enters the Sea Berry scene. Jim, who is fluent in Russian, has taken many trips to Europe and Russia over the years to collect Sea Berry varieties from plant breeders who have selected the finest fruiting cultivars known to the world, and brought them back here to make them available to North American growers. Many farmers around the country have since grown out seedlings of these varieties in attempts to improve upon them but breeding programs in North America are still very much in their infancy.

Growing Sea Berry plants

As of now there are very few large scale Sea Berry productions in North America so Sea Berry products, aside from in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, are nearly impossible to find. Like so many of the finest fruits, if you want Sea Berries you’ll have to grow your own plants. Thankfully it is one of the easiest plants to grow, is incredibly vigorous, and is pest and disease free!

Seaberry clusterSeaberry close-upSeaberry branch 3Seaberry branch 4
Seaberry branchSeaberry Branch 2Seaberry strainer Seaberry bowl

Site Selection for Sea Berry plants

When selecting your planting site the first thing to consider is that Sea Berries are very shade intolerant. As a pioneer species that is adapted to colonizing disturbed areas it requires full day sunlight to reach maximum productivity. It is possible to grow Sea Berries in half day sun, but anything below six hours of direct sunlight and productivity begins to decline drastically.

Good drainage is essential as well, otherwise plants will die from root rot. They prefer a sandy loam, but even growers with heavy clay soils have successfully grown Sea Berries if they are planted on a slope that drains well. Coastal growers will also benefit from Sea Berry’s tolerance of saline soils. They often grow on coastal dunes and slopes where the ocean spray makes it impossible for larger saline-intolerant species to grow up and shade out the Sea Berries. This adaptation is also especially relevant for urban growers who might receive salt build up in their soils from road salt used in winter road maintenance.

If you can meet these two broad requirements of full sunlight and good drainage then you will likely have no problem growing Sea Berries. As a nitrogen fixing species it can tolerate some of the poorest nutrient deficient soils, and we have thoroughly tested this, planting in gravelly parking strips, post construction backfill, rocky outcropping where nearly no soil has formed, coarse sandy soils, etc. and the Sea Berry plant thrives where most other species wouldn’t stand a chance. Sea Berry plants will actually improve soil conditions over time. It has a broad pH tolerance, from 5.5 to 8.0, although it should be noted that the symbiotic root nodule-dwelling Frankia bacteria that are responsible for the Sea Berry’s ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen prefer a pH of 5.5-7.0. Plants will survive temperatures from -45 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 degrees Fahrenheit but typically set better crops below 90 degrees, and they are relatively drought tolerant.

Although they can tolerate nearly any well-draining soil conditions, there are a few nutrient deficiencies you may run into when growing them at home. Any yellowing of the leaves may indicate a deficiency in nitrogen or potassium. Marginal chlorosis, shortened stem internodes and death of the terminal bud may be due to a phosphorus deficiency and delayed opening of the flowers and leaf buds in spring or small chlorotic leaves may indicate a Zinc deficiency. These deficiencies are rare but worth noting.

The ability of Sea Berries to thrive in poor soil conditions and colonize rapidly might raise a red flag for those concerned with invasive species. It is true that Sea Berry plants will sometimes sucker from the root system so be sure your maintenance plan accounts for this. Mowing the suckers down is sufficient to keep them fully contained, though some may enjoy digging up the suckers and planting them elsewhere. Another strategy is to come in with a sharp spade once a year and cut any runners from around the root base. Sea Berry has not demonstrated the ability to spread rapidly by seed here but it is worth keeping an eye on if Sea Berry plants have no previous history in your area. The plant’s extreme shade intolerance also makes it unlikely to be a problematic species, especially in regard to its ability to invade healthy woodland ecosystems.

Sea Berry Orchard Design

Typically Sea Berry farms are oriented on north-south rows to maximize sunlight penetration to every plant in the orchard. It is important to note that Sea Berries are a dioecious species meaning they produce their male and female flowers on separate plants, so in order to receive fruit you need to have a male plant in the vicinity and larger plantings require the correct proportion of male to female plants. One male plant for every eight female plants is a good ratio. For larger plantings one male planted every fifth plant and repeated every fourth row has proven to be one of the most productive male to female patterns. Flowers are wind pollinated so it is worth noting the direction of your spring winds when laying out your plantings.

Within the rows plants are typically spaced 3 to 5 feet apart with 16-20 feet between each row. Home orchardists can use wider spacing between plants if a more ornamental or spreading form is desired.

Young plantings require irrigation, especially where summer rainfall is low, and in Mediterranean or desert climates the plants may always need irrigation for optimum fruit production.

Pruning your Sea Berry plants

This may be the most confusing aspect of growing Sea Berries for many home orchardists as well as production farmers. Typically the plants are so productive that even a lazy or sloppy pruning job will still give you an abundance of fruit, but proper pruning techniques will give you a more manageable shrub as well as long term productivity and larger crops.

Before getting into the more detailed Sea Berry pruning, know that general fruit tree pruning techniques can be applied to Sea Berry plants as well. Removing dead wood, downward facing branches, overlapping or crowded branches and heading back long, overly thin branches will benefit your Sea Berry plants. The goal is light penetration throughout the entire canopy, just as it would be with any other fruit tree.

The goals for Sea Berry pruning are:

  • Improve branching habit
  • Maintain an optimum number of new and young fruiting branches
  • Remove old, weak & non-productive branches
  • Increase light penetration
  • Maintain an annual bearing habit.

The first thing to do with your young plants, if it hasn’t been done at the nursery already, is to remove the terminal bud as well as any superfluous lower branches. Removing the terminal bud will create a more bush like habit rather than an upright one by sending energy to lateral buds rather than the terminal bud.

Keeping trees at a height of 8-9 feet greatly reduces the shaded interior of the plant and keeps them at a much more manageable height for pruning and harvesting. In general downward facing branches are the least productive, upward facing branches are typically over vigorous and produce mainly vegetative growth and horizontal branches are the most productive and heavily laden with fruit. Plants are pruned in late winter or early spring before buds begin to open.

Eighty percent of berries are born on second year wood, so maximizing the amount of second year wood on a year to year basis is the goal. One of the issues with this is that one of the most common and effective ways of harvesting Sea Berries, especially on a smaller scale, is to cut off the entire fruit-laden branch and freeze it before popping the frozen berries off. This is due to the lack of an abscission layer in the berries making them very difficult for hand picking. So again, you need to be sure that you are maintaining a healthy amount of second year branches each year to maintain a high level of fruit production.

Harvesting Sea Berry fruit

As previously mentioned, the harvest of Sea Berries can be somewhat tricky and may be one of the biggest reasons why there aren’t more large scale Sea Berry farms. The lack of an abscission layer and the small size of the berry, as well as its tendency to “pop” when picked make it very difficult for hand harvesting. Sea Berry plants are also somewhat thorny, hence the other common name sea buckthorn, and this adds to the difficulty of hand harvesting. It takes roughly 1500 labor hours per hectare to properly harvest an orchard! So in that situation the laborers are either being paid very poorly or the product ends up costing a lot, or perhaps a bit of both.

On the small scale the most efficient harvest method we have found is to cut off the entire fruit laden branch and freeze it. Freezing turns the berries from little water balloons that often explode into solid berries that can easily be popped of the branch with a fork or shaken off. Berries can then be stored frozen for the long term and thawed out as needed for juices, jams, sorbets, smoothies, or any of the endless recipes you might incorporate Sea Berries into.

Mechanical harvesting has also been shown to be profitable although it is not very efficient so very large plantings are required to make this economical. A few different tools for hand harvesting have also been created that cut the berries at the stem, though this is also very time consuming.

Though we often focus on the berry, Sea Berry plants are also valued throughout the world for their oil which can be pressed from the seeds, as well as for medicinal components found in all parts of the plant. The easiest of these to harvest is the leaves which can be dried and made into a lovely herbal tea that has many of the same nutritional qualities that the berries. The leaves have a surprisingly pleasant flavor, similar to nettle tea. Harvesting leaves for tea will also give you a use for your male plants besides pollen.

Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Sea Berry plant & fruit

The nutritional qualities and medicinal value of the Sea Berry plant and its fruit have long been valued throughout many parts of the world. To really understand the many properties and components of this amazing plant we could fill an entire book but we will touch on a few of its wonderful qualities here.

The first thing people notice about Sea Berries, especially when making juice out of them, is the incredibly high amount of carotenoids that give the berries their deep orange color. Carotenoids boost the body’s immune system and carotenoids in Sea Berries are especially easy for our bodies to absorb because of the oil content that is present in the fruits.

Sea Berries are also a great source of omega fatty acids, including palmitic fatty acids, palmitoleic (omega 7), oleic (omega 9), linoleic (omega 6), and linolenic (omega 3) fatty acids.

Concentration of vitamin C in Sea Berries is much higher than those found in oranges, strawberries, or kiwis and concentration of vitamin E is higher than those found in wheat, maize, or soybean.

Other vitamins include vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B9, B12, D, and the trace minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iodine, iron, chromium, selenium, and zinc. A 2010 report by Food Research International stated that Sea Berries contain 18 out of 22 known amino acids!

In the cosmetics industry the oil has long been valued for its use in decreasing wrinkles, as an antimicrobial, antiseptic, and for its ability to regenerate tissue. Many medicine traditions have also used the oil as a pain reliever and for its anti inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Reports show Sea Berrys consumption may improve the bodies abilities to inhibit tumor development and eradicate free radicals. Sea Berry consumption also improves cardiovascular activity and immune system functioning.

For more detailed information on Sea Berry’s nutritional and medicinal components check out some of the amazing articles and websites listed in the resource section below.

Other Resources:

Li & Beveridge. Sea BUckthorn Production and Utilization. NRC Research Press. (2003).

Sabir SM, et al. “Elemental and nutritional analysis of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides ssp. turkestanica) Berries of Pakistani origin.” (2005)

Bal LM, et al. “Sea buckthorn berries: A potential source of valuable nutrients for nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals.” Food Research International (2010)

The Anticancer Activity of Sea Buckthorn [Elaeagnus rhamnoides (L.) A. Nelson]


Sea buckthorn is a member of the Elaeagnaceae. It is currently cultivated on a production scale, primarily in Russia and China, and in a growing number of varieties around the world (i.e., Finland, Germany, and Estonia).

Both in vitro and human and animal in vivo studies on sea buckthorn have found a range of bioactive chemicals in its leaves, roots, seeds, and berries, known as seaberry, or Siberian pineapple, as well as the oil extracted from them; these compounds exhibit a wide range of anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-atherosclerotic activities (Zeb, 2006; Basu et al., 2007; Kumar et al., 2011; Suryakumar and Gupta, 2011; Xu et al., 2011; Christaki, 2012; Teleszko et al., 2015; Olas, 2016; Ulanowska et al., in press). Several trace elements and vitamins (especially A, C, and E), lipids, carotenoids, amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and phenolic compounds that are found in the berries are presented in Table 1 (Olas, 2016; Gradt et al., 2017; Ulanowska et al., in press). Their concentration in the berries depends on the climate, size, maturity of the plant, and the procedure used to process and store the plant material (Fatima et al., 2012; Malinowska and Olas, 2016). Gao et al. (2000) report changes in antioxidant properties, as well as other types of biological activity, in sea buckthorn berries during maturation, which were strongly correlated with the content of total phenolic compounds and ascorbic acid. Moreover, the antioxidant activity of the lipophilic extract increased significantly and corresponded to the increase in total carotenoid content.


Table 1. The chemical composition of individual parts of the sea buckthorn (44; modified).

A wealth of healthy ingredients are found not only in the raw fruits, but also in a variety of preparations such as jams, juices, marmalades, or tinctures. Sea buckthorn berries can be also used to make pies and liquors (Li and Hu, 2015). Hu (2005) reports that sea buckthorn seed can be used to make oil and the leaves can used to make tea. While teas made from the seeds have laxative properties and help weight loss, infusions of the leaves have antidiarrheal properties; in addition, fruit teas strengthen the immune system, and show activity against skin diseases (Frohne, 2010; Sarwa, 2001).

The positive and unique properties of sea buckthorn have been known since at least the VII Century BC (Suryakumar and Gupta, 2011; Li and Hu, 2015). The plant was used not only in natural medicine, but also veterinary medicine as a means of relieving helminthiasis in horses and providing them more mass and a beautiful, shiny coat. Currently, its products are used in many industries, especially the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries, but also as a decorative element, as firewood, or even as a tool for the rehabilitation of degraded areas. According to historical records, sea buckthorn was first used as a drug in China, and in more modern times, the plant was formally listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia in 1977 (The State of Pharmacopoeia Commission of PR China, 1977).

Modern studies have shown that the parts of sea buckthorn can serve as natural remedies for cardiovascular diseases, as well as diseases of the skin, liver, and stomach. The therapeutic potential of its bioactive compounds is demonstrated in Table 2. This review article summarizes the current knowledge concerning the different organs of sea buckthorn, and discusses whether they may represent a “golden mean” for the treatment of cancer. It is important to note that the source information for this paper is derived not only from in vitro models, but also in vivo models.


Table 2. Sea buckthorn bioactive compounds and their therapeutic effects (44; modified).

Anticancer Activity of Sea Buckthorn

A number of phytopharmaceuticals, particularly such phenolic compounds as proanthocyanidins, curcumin, and resveratrol, have been found to offer significant benefits in cancer chemoprevention (Barrett, 1993; Bagchi and Preuss, 2004; Bagchi et al., 2014; Shanmugam et al., 2015; Ko et al., 2017) and radiotherapy (Cetin et al., 2008). It is well-documented that higher dietary intakes of phenolic compounds, especially procyanidins and flavonoids are associated with a lower risk of cancer (Barrett, 1993; Bagchi and Preuss, 2004; Duthie et al., 2006; Zafra-Stone et al., 2007; Cetin et al., 2008; Seeram, 2008; Bagchi et al., 2014; Chen et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2014; Giampieri et al., 2016; Kristo et al., 2016). Sea buckthorn possesses a wide range of biological and pharmacological activities, including anticancer properties. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying them remain unclear, these compounds are known to be present in different organs and their products, especially in the juice and oil (Xu et al., 2011). The antitumor activity of sea buckthorn can be attributed to antioxidant compounds, particularly phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, including kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin; these protect cells from oxidative damage that can lead to genetic mutation and to cancer (Christaki, 2012).

In Vitro Studies

Various in vitro studies have demonstrated that sea buckthorn has anticancer activity. For example, Zhang et al. (2005) investigated changes in the expression of apoptosis-related genes in the human breast carcinoma cell line Bcap-37 induced by flavonoids from sea buckthorn seed. Their bioinformatics analysis found that the expression of 32 analyzed genes, including CTNNB1, IGFBP4, GADD34, and caspase 3, associated with the apoptosis of Bcap-37 cells, was influenced by flavonoid treatment.

Teng et al. (2006) found that isorhamnetin (3′-methoxy-3,4′5,7-tetra hydroxyl flavone; a flavonoid isolated from sea buckthorn) has cytotoxic effects against human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (BEL-7402), with an IC50 of about 75 μg/ml after 72-h treatment. Li et al. (2015) also found isorhamnetin to have anti-proliferation effects on lung cancer cells in vitro when applied at concentrations ranging from 10 to 320 μg/ml, and in vivo in C57BL/6 mice when administrated orally (50 mg/kg/d) for 7 days. The authors suggest that the mechanism of isorhamnetin action may involve the apoptosis of cells induced by the down-regulation of oncogenes and up-regulation of apoptotic genes. Other observations showed that isorhamnetin suppresses the proliferation of cells from the human colorectal cancer cell lines (HT-29, HCT 116, and SW480), induces cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase, and suppresses cell proliferation by inhibiting the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway. In addition, isorhamnetin reduced the phosphorylation levels of Akt (Ser473), phosph-p70S6 kinase, and phosph-4E-BP1 (t37/46) protein, and enhanced the expression of cyclin B1 protein at concentrations of 20 and 40 μM (Li et al., 2014).

In a study on MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells, Wang et al. (2014) noted sea buckthorn procyanidins isolated from the seeds to have inhibitory effects on fatty acid synthase (FAS): a key enzyme for de novo long-chain fatty acid biosynthesis, high levels of which are found in cancer cells. This inhibition was dose-dependent at concentrations ranging from 0 to 0.14 μg/ml. A concentration of 0.087 μg/ml inhibited 50% of FAS activity. Moreover, cell growth was suppressed by treatment with sea buckthorn procyanidins at concentrations between 10 and 60 μg/ml. In addition, the tested procyanidins were found to induce cell apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. The authors suggest that these procyanidins can induce MDA-MB-231 cell apoptosis by inhibiting intracellular FAS activity.

Olsson et al. (2004) compared the effect of 10 different extracts of fruits and berries, including sea buckthorn berries, on the proliferation of HT29 semi-colon cancer cells and MCF-7 breast cancer cells. They observed that sea buckthorn had the highest inhibition effect for the proliferation of HT29 and MCF-7 cells at its two highest administered concentrations (0.25 and 0.5%). The authors suggest that the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation was correlated with concentrations of carotenoids and vitamin C. Moreover, they propose the presence of a synergistic action between carotenoids, vitamin C, and anthocyanins. In addition, McDougall et al. (2008) note that sea buckthorn berry extract possessed slightly antiproliferative effects against cervical and a semi-colon cancer cells grown in vitro.

Boivin et al. (2007) determined the antiproliferative activity of the juices of 13 types of berries, including sea buckthorn, at concentrations of 10–50 μg/ml against five cancer cell lines in vitro: AGS—stomach adenocarcinoma, ACF-7—mammary gland adenocarcinoma, PC-3—prostatic adenocarcinoma, Caco-2—colorectal adenocarcinoma, and MDA-MB-231—mammary gland adenocarcinoma. It was found that sea buckthorn berry juice, like blackberry and black chokeberry juices, had anti-proliferative properties. However, no correlation was found between the anti-proliferative properties of the berry juices and their antioxidant capacity, and the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation by the juices did not involve caspase-dependent apoptosis. Despite this, suppression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced activation of nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFκB) was observed.

Recently, Guo et al. (2017) studied the phytochemical composition of the berries of four different subspecies of sea buckthorn, as well as their antioxidant and antiproliferative properties against HepG2 human liver cancer cells in vitro: H. rhamnoides L. subsp. sinensis (Sinensis), H. rhamnoides L. subsp. yunnanensis (Yunnanensis), H. rhamnoides L. subsp. mongolica (Mongolica), and H. rhamnoides L. subsp. turkestanica (Turkestanica). Of these subspecies, H. rhamnoides L. subsp. sinensis demonstrated the highest total phenolic content and corresponding total antioxidant activity, while the greatest cellular antioxidant and antiproliferative properties were observed in H. rhamnoides L. subsp. yunnanensis. These properties were attributed to the action of phenolic acids and flavonoid aglycones.

Zhamanbaeva et al. (2014) studied the effects of ethanol extract from sea buckthorn leaves on the growth and differentiation of human acute myeloid leukemia cells (KG-1a, HL60, and U937). Although a plant extract was found to inhibit cell growth according to cell strain and extract dose, the study does not identify the chemical content of the tested extract. They used three concentrations of the extract: 25, 50, and 100 μg/ml. The findings suggest that the antiproliferative effect of sea buckthorn extract on acute myeloid leukemia cells was partially determined by activation of the S phase checkpoint, which probably led to deceleration of the cell cycle and induction of apoptosis.

Elsewhere, Zhamanbayeva et al. (2016) studied the antiproliferative and differentiation-enhancing activity of various plant extracts (10–100 μg/ml), including water-ethanol extract from leaves of sea buckthorn: it was found to have a total polyphenol content of approximately 46 mg GA equivalent/g dried extract, total flavonoid content of approximately 23 mg quercetin equivalent/g dried extract. The authors observed that the tested extracts, including sea buckthorn extract, reduced the growth and viability of acute myeloid leukemia cells; in addition, at non-cytotoxic doses, they also potentiated cell differentiation induced by a low concentration of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, in a manner dependent on cell type. Moreover, the tested extracts strongly inhibited microsomal lipid peroxidation and protected normal erythrocytes against hypo-osmotic shock.

A recent study by Kim et al. (2017) proposes that sea buckthorn leaf extract, containing about 70 mg/g total phenolic compounds and about 460 μg/g catechin, may inhibit the rapid proliferation of rat C6 glioma cells when administered at 0.62, 6.2, and 62 μg/ml, probably by inducing the early events of apoptosis. The authors also suggest that the reduction of C6 glioma cell proliferation and viability following administration of the plant extract was accompanied by a decrease in the production of reactive oxygen species, which are critical for the proliferation of tumor cells. Moreover, sea buckthorn not only upregulated the expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bcl-2-associated X (Bax), but also promoted its localization in the nucleus.

Various studies report that sea buckthorn oil also possesses anti-tumor properties. This oil can be incorporated in capsules, gelatin, and oral liquids (Yang and Kallio, 2002). Moreover, toxicity studies report no adverse effects in subjects administered with sea buckthorn oil (Upadhyay et al., 2009). Kumar et al. (2011) indicate that sea buckthorn oil plays an important role in cancer therapy, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and that taking sea buckthorn oil may help counteract many side effects or treatment, restore kidney and liver function, increase appetite, and generally keep patients in good health. Wang et al. (1989) observed that seed oil retarded tumor growth by 3–50%. Zhang et al. (Zhang, 1989) demonstrated that injection of seed oil (1.59 g/kg body weight) significantly inhibited the growth rate of transplanted melanoma (B16) and sarcoma (S180) tumors in mice. Wu et al. (1989) attribute the protective effect of sea buckthorn seed oil against cervical cancer to the presence of vitamins A and E. Finally, Sun et al. (2003) note that flavonoids from oil extracted from sea buckthorn seeds exert an inhibitory action on the liver cancer cell line BEL-7402 by inducing apoptosis.

The seeds and berry pulp of sea buckthorn contains various other bioactive compounds, including unsaturated fatty acids and phytosterols. It is known that unsaturated fatty acids have a multidirectional influence on human health, for example, by stimulating the immune system. In addition, phytosterols have anticancer properties (Sajfratova et al., 2010; Dulf, 2012). More details about the composition and beneficial health aspects of sea buckthorn oil are given by Olas (2018). The effect of sea buckthorn on cancer cells in different in vitro models is described in Table 3.


Table 3. The effect of sea buckthorn on cancer cells in in vitro models.

In Vivo Studies

Sea buckthorn has been found to have anticancer properties in both in vitro and in vivo studies on animal models. A study of the chemopreventive action of sea buckthorn fruits by Padmavathi et al. (2005) found them to inhibit dimethylobenzenoantracen-induced skin papillomagenesis in mice. The authors suggest that inhibition of carcinogenesis may be attributed to the concomitant induction of phase II enzymes, i.e., glutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione reductase in mouse liver. Moreover, the authors also suggest that the anticancer action of sea buckthorn fruits may be based on its enhancement of the DNA-binding activity of interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1), a known antioncogenic transcription factor causing growth suppression and apoptosis.

Nersesyan and Muradyan (2004) report that sea buckthorn juice protects mice against the genotoxic action of cisplatin: a well-known anticancer drug which also is very toxic to normal cells. Sea buckthorn juice (300 ml) prepared ex tempore was given to mice by gavage for periods of 5 or 10 days. 3 h after the last gavage, mice received cisplatin at concentrations of 1.2 or 2.4 mg/kg.

Yasukawa et al. (2009) found 70% ethanol extract of sea buckthorn branches (1 mg of plant extract/mouse) to have antitumor properties in an in vivo two-stage carcinogenesis test with two groups of 15 mice; 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene as an indicator, and 12-O-tetracecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate as a promotor. Of the three phenolic compounds (catechin, gallocatechin, and epigallocatechin) and the triterpenoid ursolic acid isolated from the extract, epigallocatechin, and ursolic acid were found to be the most active.

Wang et al. (2015) found that not only the phenolic compounds or phenolic extracts/fractions of sea buckthorn have anticancer properties: HRWP-A, a water-soluble homogenous polysaccharide with repeating units of (1 → 4)-β-D-galactopyranosyluronic residues, of which 85.2% are esterified with methyl groups, also demonstrates anticancer and immunostimulating activities in vivo. An antitumor activity assay demonstrated that HRWP-A could significantly inhibit Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) growth in tumor-bearing mice. In addition, this compound enhanced lymphocyte proliferation, augmented macrophage activities, and promoted natural killer cell activity in tumor-bearing mice. The authors used three different doses of polysaccharide (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg), which were administrated intragastrically each day for 14 days.

Radioprotective Ability of Sea Buckthorn

Due to its high content of biologically-active compounds and antioxidants, sea buckthorn is included in cancer therapy for its radioprotective activity, which has been demonstrated in a number of studies by Goel et al. (2002, 2003a,b, 2004, 2005). Agrawala and Goel (2002) found whole extract of fresh sea buckthorn berries to have protective properties (H. rhamnoides—RH-3; 25–35 mg/kg body wt), particularly for radiation-induced micronuclei in mouse bone marrow. In addition, Goel et al. (2002) found that RH-3 inhibited the Fenton reaction and radiation-mediated production of hydroxyl radicals in vitro.

Kumar et al. (2002) report that RH-3 inhibited DNA strand breaks induced by radiation and tertiary butyl hydroperoxide in a dose-dependent manner, as revealed by Comet assay. They also note a strong compaction of chromatin occurring at concentrations of 100 and 120 pg/ml RH-3 and above, which made the nuclei resistant to radiation, even at a dose of 1,000 Gy. Goel et al. (2003a) report the protection of jejunal crypts by RH-3 against lethal whole body gamma irradiation (10 Gy), and that caspase-3 activity was also significantly lower in mice administered RH-3 before irradiation as compared to irradiated controls. Interestingly, a radioprotective dose of RH-3 (30 mg/kg b.w.) induced significant DNA fragmentation (studied spectrofluorimetrically) in thymocytes in mice in vivo. In addition, sea buckthorn treatment before irradiation was found to enhance radiation-induced apoptosis in vivo (Goel et al., 2004). Goel et al. (2005) suggest also that pre-irradiation treatment of mice with 30 mg/kg sea buckthorn berry extract protects the functional integrity of mitochondria from radiation-induced oxidative stress. These experiments examined the levels of various biomarkers of oxidative stress, including superoxide anion, lipid peroxidation, and protein oxidation. Interestingly, RH-3 was found to have immunostimulatory properties, which may play an important role in its radioprotective efficacy (Prakash et al., 2005).


Although many studies have confirmed the anticancer activity of sea buckthorn, its medicinal and prophylactic doses remain unknown, and no clinical trials have yet been performed: only in vitro or in vivo studies involving experimental animals. It is known that sea buckthorn may participate in the prevention and treatment of cancer; it also accelerates the return to health of patients receiving chemotherapy by significantly improving the performance of the immune system and relieves hematological damage.

The hypothetical mechanism by which sea buckthorn may exert its chemopreventive and therapeutic responses against cancer is presented in Figure 1. The bioactive substances in various parts of sea buckthorn have a range of properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative activities; they also induce apoptosis and strengthen the immune system; however, the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Therefore, before sea buckthorn can be considered the “golden mean” for treatment of cancers, it requires further study in a range of high-quality studies.


Figure 1. Hypothetical mechanisms of action by which sea buckthorn may evoke chemopreventive and therapeutic responses against cancer.

Author Contributions

All authors (BO, BS, KU) listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

The reviewer BW and handling Editor declared their shared affiliation.


This work was supported by National Science Centre, Poland 2015/19/B/NZ9/03164.


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1. Introduction

Nowadays there has been a growing interest by consumers, researchers, and the food industry about the ways in which some foods can help maintain human and animal health beyond their traditional nutritive value. The market for functional foods is increasing annually at a rate of 15% to 20%.Among these foods, sea buckthorn or Hippophae rhamnoides, an ancient crop with modern virtues, is included. The term Hippophae has been derived from the Greek words: “hippo” which means horse and “phaos” which means shine. In ancient Greece it has been used as animal feed, especially for horses, because it made their coat shining. Sea buckthorn-Hippophae genus, Elaeagnaceae family is a spiny bush with long and narrow leaves and orange-yellow berries, which are spherical in shape and have diameter between 3-8mm. It is cold resistant, typically grows in dry sand areas, is native to Europe and Asia, while it has also been introduced in North and South America. For centuries Hippophae has been utilized not only for purposes of feeding, but also as traditional medicine to prevent or treat various ailments, such as inflammation, gastric ulcers and dermatological disorders.Sea buckthorn fruit berries consist of pulp (68%), seed (23%) and peel (7.75%). The berries, leaves and bark contain many bioactive compounds. Due to the nutritional and functional properties of Hippophae, it has gained popularity all over the world.

2. Nutritional and Bioactive Compounds in Sea Buckthorn Berries, Leaves and Oils

All parts of sea buckthorn could be a good source of a large number of bioactive compounds.

2.1. Sea Buckthorn Berries

The berries are nutritious, although they are very acidic. They are rich sources of proteins and various essential amino acids. They also contain mineral elements like Ca, P, Fe and especially K which is the most abundant among all the other elements. In addition, Hippophae fruits include high levels of vitamins, like C (695 mg/100g, which is comparatively more that lemons and oranges), tocopherols (1-10 mg/100g) and carotenoids (3-15 mg/100g) especially β-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthine. Berries also contain certain other vitamins such as folic acid, B1, B2 and K. Moreover, they have large amounts of sugars – mainly glucose and fructose that vary widely in berry juice from 0.6 to 24.2 g/100ml. Also, organic acids are present in Hippophae fruits, such as malic and quinic acids, as well as oxalic citric and tartaric acids. The peel of the stem and the berries contains 5-hydroxytryptamine, which is rare among plants.The chemical composition of sea buckthorn berries vary considerably due to their origin, the climate, the fruit size and maturity, and the method of processing. Regarding the unique aroma of Hippophae berries, it is not comparable to any other common fruit, owing to their volatile compounds i.e. ethyl dodecenoate, ethyl octanoate, decanol, ethyl decanoate, and ethyl dodecanoate.In addition, Hippophae berries contain high amounts of natural antioxidants resulting in on of the highest antioxidant activities, among the medicinal plants. Their major antioxidant is ascorbic acid, whereas they also contain tocopherols, carotenoids, flavonoids. The flavonoid found in the largest quantity is isorhamnetin, followed by isorham-netin-3-O-13-D-glucoside, rutin, ustzagalin, quercetin,myricetin and kaempferol. Table 1 presents the antioxidant composition of sea buckthorn berry juice. This juice is nourishing and has the advantage to remain liquid even in sub-zero temperatures, because it has a freezing point of -22°C.Moreover, the sea buckthorn fruits are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid) with an average of 86.3%. Berries also contain phytosterols like β-sitosterol, ergosterol and amyrins.

2.2. Sea Buckthorn Leaves

The leaves have remarkable content of nutrients and bioactive components, especially phenolics. These substances in the leaves are represented by flavonols leucoanthocyanidins, (-)epicatechin, (+)gallocatechin, (-)epigallocatechin and gallic acid. Guan et al. found that sea buckthorn fresh leaves are rich in total carotenoids (26.3 mg/100g) and total chlorophyll (98.8 mg/100g), an indicator of quality for green vegetables; whereas dried leaves still contained large quantities of bioactive compounds comparable to commonly consumed vegetables. Hippophae leaves also contain significant amounts of proteins (20.7%), amino acids (0.73% lysine, 0.13% methionine & cystine) , minerals (Ca, Mg and K), folic acid, catechins, esterified sterols, triterpenols and isoprenols. According to Kumar et al. the tannins hippophaenins A and B were isolated from the leaves of sea buckthorn.

2.3. Sea Buckthorn Oils

From the sea buckthorn two different oils can be extracted, the pulp oil and the seed oil. The mature seeds contain 8 – 20% oil, the dried fruit pulp (flesh and peel) about 20 – 25% oil, whereas the berries residue left after juice extraction about 15 – 20%. The oil content is affected by the morphological characteristics i.e. size and colour of the berries, as well as the harvesting time. These oils are rich in vitamins E, K, carotenoids (lycopene, β-carotene), tocopherols (α-tocopherol is the most abundant especially in seed oil), tocotrienols (more concentrated in pulp oil) and sterols (β-sitosterol, cholesterol, campesterol, stigmasterol) . Moreover, the two Hippophae oils have considerably different fatty acid composition . Pulp oil contains monosaturated and saturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, palmitoleic acid (comprising 30% of the total acids) and palmitic acid. Seed oil contains unsaturated fatty acids while it is the only oil that naturally provides a ratio 1:1 of linolenic acid (n-3) to linoleic acid (n-6). Table 2 presents the chemical composition of the two sea buckthrown oils.

3. Potential Applications of Sea Buckthorn Fruits for Humans and Animals

Sea buckthorn berries, oils and leaves could be considered as functional foods due to medicinal and nutritional properties of their substances.

3.1. Medicinal Applications

3.2.1. Cardioprotective and Anti-atherogenic Activity

The effects of Hippophae on cardiovascular diseases are known in Tibetan traditional medicine for more than one thousand years. The flavonoids included in the various parts of Hippophae, as well as the unsaturated fatty acids in the oils can improve the function of the cardiovascular system, can prevent coronary heart disease and can relieve symptoms of diabetes mellitus. These benefits of sea buckthorn consumption are possibly achieved by lowering blood glucose, scavenging free radicals, decreasing the susceptibility of low density lipoproteins to oxidation and exerting antihypertensive effects. Additionally, Basu et al. found that sea buckthorn seed oil had significant anti-atherogenic and cardioprotective activity in rabbits.

3.2.2. Antioxidant and Anti-cancer Effects

Flavonoids contained in all parts of Hippophae are mainly responsible for the antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. They protect cells from oxidative damage, consequent genetic mutation and ultimately cancer. The potential chemopreventive effect of berries in mice was reported by Suryakumar and Gupta. Studies in diet-induced obese mice showed that sea buckthorn leaves have antioxidant and anti-visceral obesity effects in the mice by regulating their antioxidant and lipid metabolism.

3.2.3. Immunomodulatory Activity

Sea buckthorn berries were evaluated for their immunoprotective effect against T-2 toxin induced immunodepression in broiler chickens. According to Lavinia et al. the essential oils extracted from sea buckthorn fruits improve the immune response of broilers. Hippophae oil promotes tissue regeneration so it has multiple beneficial effects on mucons membranes such as gastric, duodenal, urogenitical and mouth mucosa.

3.2.4. Anti-bacterial and Anti-vital Effects

Leaves of Hippophae showed inhibiting effects against Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis. Furthermore, seed oil exhibited anti-microbial activity against Escherichia coli.

3.2.5. Anti-Inflammatory Capacity

Hippophae is traditionally used for the treatment of gastric ulcers by controlling pro-inflammatory mediators. Moreover, oil and leaves of this plant are promoting recuperation of skin injuries and supporting the healing of skin disorders. Palmitoleic acid, ingredient in the sea buckthorn oil, is component of skin fat and it is considered a valuable topical agent to support cell tissue and wound healing. Leaves of Hippophae can protect irradiated mice from inflamation. Besides, Li and Beveridge reported that Russian cosmonauts had used Hippophae fruits in their diets and the oils in a cream in order to protect themselves from solar radiation.

3.2. Nutritional Applications

Due to their functional properties, and unique taste and flavor, Hippophae berries can be processed to make juice, candies, jellies, jam, alcoholic or non alcoholic beverages, or as flavoring of dairy products. The seed and pulp oils of Hippophae are used as a source of ingredients in food supplements, such as gelatin, vegetable based capsules, and oral liquids. Also, they are used in commercially available cosmetic products, like shampoo. Sea buckthorn leaves are used to produce leaf extracts, tea, teapowder or cosmetics.At the present there is limited research there is limited research on feeding Hippophae fruits in animal nutrition. Nevertheless, it has been shown that Hippophae fruits, seed and leaves are suitable for animal feeding. Biswas et al. reported that sea buckthorn is suitable for poultry nutrition, mainly in cold, arid regions. In an earlier study it was demonstrated that this plant can increase egg production rate, and hen body weight.

4. Conclusions

Currently Hippophae rhamnoides or sea buckthorn has gained the statue of on of the world’s most promising functional food, due to the valuable bioactive compounds it contains. Nevertheless, more research is needed in order to confirm all it’s positive effects.

Bioactive Components of Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides L. Foliage


The composition of lipophilic components of sea buckthorn leafy shoots, a large tonnage waste in the production of sea buckthorn oil and during renewing the cultural plantings of sea buckthorn, was studied. Hexane was used as an extraction solvent for raw materials; it provides a high degree of lipophilic component extraction and is an analogue of extraction gasoline used in the food and perfume industries. The chemical composition of the hexane extract of sea buckthorn leafy shoots was studied by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography. Sixty-seven neutral and twenty-nine acidic components, including polyprenols, dolichols, triterpene alcohols and acids, sterols, were identified. β-Sitosterol was the main component of the sterol fraction. Its content was 6.9% of the extract mass, which is much higher than in the essential extracts of leaves and pulp of sea buckthorn fruit. It is mostly found in the free form in the extract. The acidic fraction contains highly active triterpene acids (up to 5% of the extract mass) along with the major aliphatic acids. Components with the chain length of 11 and 17 isoprene units predominate in the fraction of polyprenols and dolichols (up to 4.2%). The results allow us to consider sea buckthorn leafy shoots as a promising source of biologically active compounds.

Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn is Transforming the Landscape

  • Exceptional ornamental beauty with attractive silver-green foliage
  • Delicious fruit with high vitamin content
  • Grows well in a variety of locations
  • Great for making homemade jams, jellies and juices

The Sea Buckthorn is a hardy, winner that seems to have it all. Intriguing looks with the convenience of a self-sufficient shrub, the Sea Berry has the bonus of producing an abundance of delicious fruit that’s just what the doctor ordered. Packed with tons of vitamin C, the first thing you notice about the numerous berries flooding your tree is their striking, vivid color. Hanging in clusters like bright-orange grapes, the Sea Berries themselves complement the silvery-green foliage that surrounds them. Standing out in the landscape with distinctive visual beauty, the Sea Berry reaches impressive heights of up to 10 feet. It also has another unusual benefit: Its nitrogen fixing ability improves the soil surrounding it. Just one more reason to add the Sea Buckthorn to your list of ‘must haves’ in your garden or landscape.
By now, most people know about all of the wonderful health properties found in berries. And the Sea Buckthorn is no exception. Chock full of vitamin C, this large berry has 7 times the amount of vitamin C contained in lemons. Not only that, its assortment also includes healthy doses of vitamins A and E. Although you can enjoy berries right off the tree, the best way to prepare them is in homemade jellies and jams. And though you need a male and female variety of Buckthorn to get berries, the process is simple…and the Sea Berry is one of the most widely planted varieties throughout the orchards of Europe.

Make a healthy choice. Get your Sea Berry today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Low light will decrease your harvest, so be sure to choose a location where your Sea Buckthorn will receive full sunlight. They also require well-draining soil so be sure to amend the soil when planting with compost or peat moss to improve drainage if needed. Avoid using manure as it will provide excessive amounts of nitrogen and stunt the root production. They prefer a pH range of 6 to 7.

Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and equal in depth. Remove your Sea Buckthorn from its container and place it inside the hole, keeping the top of the root ball even with the ground. Water the soil immediately after planting which will help to settle the soil and remove any additional air pockets. Apply a layer of mulch around your plant to conserve moisture and help keep grass and weeds from growing.

2. Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist but be sure not to saturate it. Overwatering can cause the leaves to turn yellow and droopy, while under watering will cause them to dry up and turn brown and crisp.

3. Fertilizing: Feed your plants yearly in spring using a well balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

4. Harvesting: When your berries are ready for harvesting in late summer and early fall, they will appear firm and have a uniform color. Since the branches have a thorny structure, they can be shaken to help remove berries. Again, keep in mind you will need a male and female Sea Buckthorn to get harvests.

5. Pruning: Be sure to prune your plants in late winter to remove any criss-crossing or broken branches. You’ll want to be sure your plant has plenty of airflow and exposure to sun as possible between branches.

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Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) hedging or shrub

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) is thorny with stiff branches.Leaves are distinct pale silvery green. Orange berry fruit, soft and juicy rich in oils. Very resistant to frost injury, making it more suitable for planting. This is not just a seaside plant, although it thrives near the sea especially on sand dunes. It can rapidly spread and sucker to form a spiny grey leaved barrier around 4 metres tall so it is advised to use caution when planting out especially near to home or driveways. It is totally wind resistant. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The male produces brownish flowers which produce wind-distributed pollen. The female plants produce orange berry-like fruit 6–9 millimetres (0.24–0.35 in) in diameter, soft, juicy and rich in oils. It is not possible to establish whether there are male or female plants until they are at least 4/5 years old but you do require both male and female plants The roots distribute rapidly and extensively, providing a non-leguminous nitrogen fixation role in surrounding soils. Landscape uses – Sea-buckthorn is also a popular garden and landscaping shrub, particularly making a good vandal-proof barrier hedge with an aggressive basal shoot system exploited in some parts of the world as wind breaks and to stabilize riverbanks and steep slopes. The fruit of the plant has a high vitamin C content– placing sea-buckthorn fruit among the most highly enriched plant sources of vitamin C. Consumer products -Sea-buckthorn fruit can be used to make pies, jams, lotions, fruit wines and liquors. The juice or pulp has other potential applications in foods or beverages.

Hippophae rhamnoides

Pineapple, orange, tropical fruit-­flavored orange berries in large bunches like grapes that are great for juicing! Really easy to grow! Seaberry is an extremely hardy (down to -45°F) and valuable fruiting plant. The plants can produce 25 pounds of fruit per bush.

It is unique in its ability to produce crops in the most inhospitable areas. It has nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots, thereby converting nitrogen into a more easily accessible form to itself and other surrounding plants, and helping to build the soil.

The fruit is very high in Vitamin C (about 15-40 times more than oranges and 7 times more than lemons), Vitamin A, and E, and has a pleasant acidic flavor which makes delicious juice. During the Cold War, East Germany used Seaberry as a healthful substitute for orange juice. The fruit is also unique for its oil content, which is exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids, Omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 and flavonoids.

It is by every definition of the word a ‘super food.’ Traditionally, the oil has been used as a treatment for burns and skin diseases as well as for gastric ulcers, liver cirrhosis, recovery of bone marrow cells, and other illnesses.

A new and very valuable plant for North American gardeners while very popular in many regions of the world. Seaberry is native to both Central Asia, reaching as far as Western China, and in Europe, in countries around the Baltic Sea. Among Seaberry’s many attributes are exceptional ornamental value, tasty and healthful fruit, cover and food for wildlife, and ability to grow in and improve poor soils. As an ornamental, Seaberry is prized for its attractive, narrow, grayish­-green foliage and its fall display of large clusters of bright orange­-yellow berries, which cover the branches and can persist well into winter.

Seaberry is extremely drought tolerant. It needs full sun exposure or it will not thrive.

Plants are cross-pollinated by wind and are either male or female. Therefore, AT LEAST 2 plants are required to produce fruit.

We offer the following:

​Botanica™ Seaberry

Botanica is a reliable, hardy, care-free and productive cultivar well known for its copious crops. It produces nutrient dense, vitamin rich, flavorful crops of berries reliably season after season. It originated from a Soviet breeding program in Moscow.

Garden’s Gift™ Seaberry

A Russian variety developed at Moscow State University’s breeding program. Harvests from this variety in the fall produce large crops of the nutritious, uniquely flavored bright orange fruit. A wonderful selection for eating fresh, juicing, preserving.

​Orange Energy® Seaberry

Orange Energy is a German cultivar of Seaberry and was developed by H.J. Albrecht in Berlin. This cultivar is renowned for its prodigious crops, reliably producing an abundance of nutrient dense, vitamin rich, delicious berries year after year.

Radiant ™ Seaberry

A renowned Siberian cultivar, Radiant is loved for its juicy, flavorful fruit, which is exceptionally high in Vitamin C, A, and E. Radiant is a hardy, beautiful, compact shrub growing to about 8 ft. in height.


Russian Orange™ Seaberry

Producing abundant crops of large, flavorful, deep orange berries, is Russian Orange. It is a consistent producer, providing large crops annually. It is an attractive and vigorous medium-size shrub. Russian Orange also offers beautiful silver-green foliage.

Sirola™ Seaberry

Sirola is a newly released variety of seaberry, which is a hybrid of Russian and German parents. Sirola’s popularity will continue to increase, we are sure, due to its flavor profile, which is a bit sweeter than other varieties. The fruit of Sirola ripens early and is exceptionally large. Crops are consistently large, year after year. Sirola is excellent for fresh eating on its own or can be mixed with another variety for a more acidic flavor profile.

Titan™ Seaberry

Titan Seaberry provides prolific crops of very large, bright orange berries. The berries are easier to harvest by hand and less tart than some other cultivars. They are aromatic and very flavorful and the bush is vigorous.

Male Seaberry

We offer Male plants to act as pollinators for the female varities of Seaberry we grow and sell. One male plant is used for 4-5 female plants usually. The male Seaberry also holds good aesthetic value, offering beautiful foliage and large copper colored flower buds.

Height at maturity: 8-12′

Spread at maturity: 8-12′

Hardiness Zones: 3-8

Container Size: 4″

Height at time of sale: 12-20″ ​


Tree & Plant Care

A large, suckering shrub with thorny stems. It grows 8 to 12 feet high and wide, can be grown in tree form, and may reach 20 feet high.
Easily grown in average, moist, well-drained, neutral to alkaline, sandy loams in full sun.
Prune after flowering to maintain shape. Plants can get unruly.

Disease, pests, and problems

None serious but difficult to find in nurseries.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of wind, salt, cold temperatures and poor soils.

Native geographic location and habitat

Found growing near seasides in Europe, Northern Asia and China

Bark color and texture

Brown thin stems with silvery scales, Tip of branches have thorny spines

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, narrow, linear, willow-like, silver-green leaves up to 3 inches long. Underside of leaf has a scaly surface.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Non-showy, yellow-green, female flowers in small racemes appear on female plants in spring (March-April) before the leaves emerge.
Male flowers bloom in tiny catkins on male plants at the same time. Wind pollinated.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Bright orange, egg-shaped fall fruits on female plants. Fruit persist on the branches through winter and are used to make teas, jams, jellies,

Although many “super-fruits” (high in antioxidants, vitamin C, carotenes and amino acid) have arrived relatively recently on the Canadian prairies, one of them was introduced to Western Canada by Frank Skinner of Dropmore, Manitoba in the 1930s.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is native to China, Russia, Mongolia and parts of northern Europe. It has been used medicinally for centuries and remains a staple of the pharmaceutical industries of China and Russia.

Hardy to -50°C and drought tolerant once established, if ever there was a horticultural rural-urban divide, it would be over sea buckthorn. With its striking orange fruit and silver foliage of late summer and early fall, it’s a great shrub for a dry area of a large farm or acreage. But it is ill suited to the tidy gardener in a smaller, well-manicured landscape. It is thorny, suckers extensively, and requires annual pruning once six or seven years old.

A medium to large shrub or small tree, it typically grows from 13 to 20 feet tall, spreading 11.5 feet. Sharp thorns are generally found along the grey branches and at their tips (although newer varieties have been developed with fewer and softer thorns).

Male (pollen producing) and female (fruit bearing) flowers develop on separate plants. Both begin to flower at about four or five years. The wind-pollinated flowers are yellow, inconspicuous, and open from mid to late May.

The berries are produced on the female plants and are mostly orange but can be yellow or red. They form in dense clusters close to the branches. Fruit ripens from early August to late September.

Many of the older varieties, seldom available now on the prairies, were introduced from Russia and Germany. More recent cultivars, developed by William Schroeder, have been released from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Agroforestry Development Centre at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. These have larger fruit with longer stems (for easier picking) and fewer and softer thorns. Most of them are smaller and more compact than the species. They include: ‘AC Autumn Glow’, ‘AC Prairie Sunset’, ‘Harvest Moon’, ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Orange September.’ All are female plants. One male will be needed for every 7 female plants. These are usually available as unnamed seedlings.

Sea buckthorn does best in full sun in a well-drained soil. It is intolerant of standing water and will not fruit in the shade. Plant them in early spring about 5 to 6.5 feet apart and water and mulch immediately. Because it fixes its own nitrogen, little fertilizer is needed. Prune to open the centre to provide maximum sunlight and to keep them from growing where you don’t want them to.

Now is the time to harvest sea buckthorn. Wear old pants and long sleeves and heavy gloves. Remember, there is a thorn on every growing point. And then think positively: jam, jelly, ice cream, liqueur! One of the easiest ways of processing is to cut off the fruiting stems to a length that will conveniently fit a steamer-juicer, juice them, and then can or freeze the juice until you have time to deal with it. (A gentle warning: like highbush cranberry, it’s at its worst in terms of “fragrance” while cooking: a mix of wet dog and dirty socks, but the end products are so worth it!)

To learn more about this unusual fruit, plan on attending Sea Buckthorn Days at the Saskatoon Farmer’s market on September 23 and 24th: speakers, raffles, a chef’s cook-off, and a gourmet lunch. All funds raised go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. For more information:

Sara is the author of numerous gardening books, among them the revised Creating the Prairie Xeriscape. And with Hugh Skinner: Gardening Naturally – A Chemical-free Handbook for the Prairies and Trees and Shrubs for the Prairies. Expect Fruit for Northern Gardens with Bob Bors in November, 2017.

This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS;; [email protected]; Check out our Bulletin Board or Calendar for upcoming garden information sessions, workshops, tours and other events: Canadian Prairie Lily Society’s annual fall lily bulb sale at the Mall at Lawson Heights in Saskatoon, Sept 29-30, 10:00am-4:00pm.


Sea-Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

Sea-buckthorn isn’t actually a Buckthorn, but it is a native species, originally found on the east coast. It is extremely hardy and salt tolerant.

Sea-buckthorn’s bright orange berries are an important Winter food for Fieldfares and Thrushes in particular. In the Neolithic they were also a (rather unpleasant) staple for humans, although I have seen recipes for jelly and even a “topping for cheesecake” (!). I used to have a very nice French perfume with Sea-buckthorn as a key ingredient, though this seems to remain something of a speciality in a sub-region in Provenance. Sea-Buckthorn is also a food plant for Emperor and Ash Pug moth larvae, among others.

Please be careful where you plant Sea-Buckthorn; outside its natural range it can be invasive, particularly when planted in sand dunes.

Provenance certificates are available on request for Sea-Buckthorn plants, which are from the Southwest of England.
Suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery

Your purchase of Sea-buckthorn helps us support a range of charities, which are related to the products we sell.

See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting. Our Sea-buckthorn plants are all bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March. During this period there may be up to two weeks delay between placing the order and dispatching, due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders for Sea-buckthorn placed between March and September are confirmed in October ready for dispatch from November.

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