Sea-buckthorn
(Hippophae rhamnoides)

Simple
Linear
Alternate
Shrub
Thorny
Deciduous

leaves

Winter twig
Winter twig

flowers

bush

distribution map

The leaves are alternate, stalkless, long and narrow, up to 8 cm long. They are covered with silvery scales on both surfaces when young, but they lose these and become dull green above with age.

ID check

Sea buckthorn is a thorny much-branched, deciduous shrub, 1-3 m tall, suckering freely from the base and thereby forming extensive patches in sand dunes and on sea-cliffs. It is frequently cultivated as an ornamental plant inland and sometimes escapes.

There are male and female plants with flowers which open in March and April before the leaves. They are small, inconspicuous, petalless and wind-pollinated.

The flower buds of the male are larger than those of the female and in winter the sex of separate bushes can be seen.

The fruits are large, 6-8 mm across, roundish and orange. They are ripe in September.

Facts

  • The fruits are relished by some birds, particularly migratory fieldfares and starlings arriving on the coast in autumn.

  • It spreads rapidly by suckers and seed and can become a conservation problem if not kept under control.

  • Elsewhere in Europe it is a pioneer species colonising shingle beds left by glaciers and rivers inland.

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