Hippophae rhamnoides – Sea Buckthorn

P1010558 (1024x816)There are certain plants that are mandatory to grow in a coastal garden including sea holly, sea thrift and sea kale.  In truth there is no statutory law, only perhaps a law of nature that tells us these things will do well in our conditions and because of that it would be rude not to give them a go.  Or just  daft to ignore species that have the word “sea” in them.  One plant that falls into this category is the sea buckthorn or Hippophae rhamneoids and I have been drawn to/repulsed by it for a while.  It featured on one of Ray Mears’ survival programmes and I was intrigued as he spent hours extracting juice from the bitter fruit only to damn it with faint praise and a sour expression.  What a palaver for something that makes your hair stand on end.  Last year when I visited the Tapley Park I was impressed by two vast specimens that provided the upper storey of a corner of the permaculture garden.  The head gardener, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, extolled the many virtues these trees share; they provide winter food for many birds including the fieldfare, they pay host to several moth species, the fruits are full of antioxidants and vitamins (with -oids a plenty) and can be used not only in wines, pies and preserves but as a skin salve.  Inspired by this fabulous piece of buckthorn marketing we sowed seed and the resultant buckettes have grown slowly but steadily ever since.  We are now the proud owners of about half a dozen plants which I am planning on using as a replacement hedge.  There is one little hitch, some plants are male and some are female and you need both to get fruit.  Without the fruit I am not sure it is worth the pain (it is not called buckTHORN for nothing).  Anyone know how do sex a sea buckthorn seedling?





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8 responses to “Hippophae rhamnoides – Sea Buckthorn

  1. We visited Tapley Park too last summer, really to see the permaculture garden in an attempt to try to understand it more. Good luck with your thorny plants!

  2. diversifolius

    I have no idea how to do that 🙂 but I agree with everyone saying it’s a great plant from any point of view (less the thorns). I have seen it used wonderfully in hedges to fix the sand dunes along the Black Sea coast and also as an ingredient in many medicinal product in Eastern Europe (cremes,oils…). I am sure they’ll have at least a few flowers soon and then you can propagate by cuttings as you wish…

  3. Cathy Marjoram

    Here you go Mrs!!!!! Found this for you…..
    First, if the plants are large enough, look at the shape of the plant. Sometimes male plants may be shorter and bushier than their taller female counterparts. This is notalways the case, however; it depends on the plant varietal. It’s certainly true with several of our European varietals, but many Canadian orchards have taller, more tree-like males.Second, look at their buds. Both male and female plants have buds; however, the male buds are much bigger, with 6-8 covering scales, than the female buds. The female buds are smaller, more elongated, and have only 2 covering scales.Third, if you happen to be looking at the plant in mid-May, about a week before leaves appear, take a look at the plant’s flowers. They are tiny and very easy to miss, but if you look closely, you might be able to spot them. Male plants have groups of 4-6 tiny yellow apetalous (meaning they have no petals) flowers. Females have single, apetalous flowers consisting of a pistil, a hypanthium, and 2-lobed perianth.  The male and female flower buds open at the same time and the males pollinate the females by wind. After pollination, the female flowers slowly develop into the orange berries for which the plant is so well-known.So, though at first glance it may be difficult to tell if a Sea Buckthorn plant is male or female, by keeping in mind a few key points, you should be able to determine the plant’s sex, even if there are no obvious signs like berries. Look at the plant’s shape, its buds, and its flowers. Is the plant short and bushy or tall and more tree-like? Are the buds small and elongated or large, with 4-6 covering scales? And, if it’s mid- to late May, are there clusters of tiny yellow apetalous flowers? By answering these questions, you should be able to determine whether the plant is male or female—unless it’s an immature plant whose buds haven’t formed yet, of course! In which case you just may have to be patient and wait a few years to find out!

  4. You can’t tip it upside down and have a peek…….!!

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