Medicinal plants

Sea buckthorn - ingredients, healing properties and tips for your own cultivation

Sea buckthorn - ingredients, healing properties and tips for your own cultivation

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Sea buckthorn natural remedy
Of the Sea buckthorn carries many names: dune and oat thorn indicate that it also grows on sea dunes and defies the salinity, sandberry emphasizes that this thorn plant produces delicious berries, other names are willow thorn or red sloe. It is an olive willow family. Sea buckthorn offers fruits with a high content of vitamin C, which taste sour and make it attractive as a food.

A deciduous shrub

Sea buckthorn is a deciduous shrub that can reach a height of six meters. Its branches form thorny shoots, close-fitting scales let them shimmer in the color of bronze. The shrub forms an extensive root system that extends particularly in width - it reaches 3 meters in depth and up to 12 meters in width. This latitude growth is an adaptation to the sandy soil on which sea buckthorn grows, for example on the seashore. There the root network ensures a firm hold of the plant even on a flat surface. It is therefore an excellent tool to prevent erosion.

The leaves are alternate with a short stem. The leaf blades are lanceolate, the leaf tip is pointed to blunt, the leaf margin rolls upwards. The top of the leaves cover star-shaped hair, these fall out later and a pale green color remains. White hair grows into a felt on the underside.

The blossoms

Sea buckthorn blooms before the leaves sprout. The flowers are yellow, small and unisexual. They sprout in March and the shrub blooms from March to May. The pollen accumulates in the sepals and the wind spreads them after they dry.

The fruits

The shrub bears fruit from August to December. These have an oval shape and are orange-yellow to orange-red. They grow around the branches of the female plants and develop from the calyx tubes that surround the seeds.

The flesh is greasy and is full of essential oils. It encloses the seed; this is hard and brown colored, inside is a white core. The seeds germinate in light and cold.

Spreading of sea buckthorn

The olive willow is pollinated by the wind. The seeds spread on the one hand through digestion - many birds and small mammals eat the fruits, and on the other hand through water. The fruits are known as pheasant food, which gave the shrub the name pheasant berry. Root sprouts spread the plant locally.


Sea buckthorn grows in Central Europe to the Pyrenees, from the Alps to the Caucasus and in the north to Norway. Its main distribution is in Asia, Siberia and China. Although the oat thorn was introduced as a cultivated plant all over Europe, ice age pollen discoveries show that it is a naturally occurring species. Game populations in Germany are in southern and central Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. In northwestern Lower Saxony, in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and in the east of Schleswig-Holstein it grows in larger stocks, on the Baltic Sea and North Sea coast there are speckled deposits.

All these regions, in which it occurs naturally, are characterized by calcareous sand or gravel soils. Sea buckthorn is a typical plant of heathland and clearings in dry pine forests. It grows on gravel banks of rivers as well as on dunes and in steppes. Here it is considered a pioneer plant and grows together with the barberry.

A vitamin bomb

Sea buckthorn berries contain significantly more vitamin C than citrus fruits, but less than rose hips - up to 900 mg per 100 g. There are also beta-carotene and tannins. The plant is interesting for vegans because the berries contain vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is usually found in animals; in sea buckthorn, it forms through a symbiosis with bacteria on the outer skin of the fruit.

The pulp contains up to 5% oil, and this is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, carotene and various vitamins.

Sea buckthorn as a medicinal plant

Sea buckthorn is used for various ailments: against loss of appetite, intestinal inflammation and diarrhea, preventive of colds (vitamin C), against vitamin C deficiency, rash, light burns and acne.

The fruits can be processed into juice, fruits and seeds boiled into tea, sea buckthorn is the basis for jams and jellies. The oil is found in skin creams. Among other things, it serves as a helpful home remedy for sunburn.

The plant is cultivated especially in China. However, since the fruits are picked by hand between the thorns and the first harvest is only possible after six years, the price is high.

Sea buckthorn juice and sea buckthorn liqueur

Sea buckthorn juice is viscous. It is rarely drunk pure, but gives mixed drinks a typical note. Sea buckthorn liqueur, the so-called pheasant shower, is primarily a local product in sea buckthorn areas.

Since the berries are just as difficult to obtain as rose hips, they are found in dried form as an ingredient in teas. The classic fruit teas with sea buckthorn and rose hips are now accompanied by new variants - the healthy wild fruit, for example, harmonises with South Africa's rooibos tea.

Sea buckthorn in the garden?

The plant is ideal for large hedges, the thorns protect against unwanted guests, the bright berries and bronze-colored branches have a high ornamental value, especially in winter, and the berries are also an important source of food for various bird species.

The deciduous shrub is a very good choice for an enclosure border in game parks and zoological gardens, in the open landscape or as a revitalization of the cleared agricultural desert.

Allotment gardeners are warned, however. Sea buckthorn stands out as a bird nourishment and nesting plant, but with a limited area it displaces other plants with its sprawling roots. It is difficult to contain it. If you still want to plant it in the garden, plan root locks right from the start.

Root barrier

For a rhizome barrier, for example, use polyethylene as yard goods, insert it into the earth as a ring around the sea buckthorn and seal it with a special rail. The material should be at least 2 mm thick. The root barrier should be at least 1.5 m in diameter and at least 60 cm high.

The oil willow plant is ideal for fixing sandy soils, so it can be used for protecting dikes and dunes on the sea coast and on river banks.

A crop

Sea buckthorn was cultivated in the GDR in the 1960s. The goal was to provide people in East Germany with vitamins independently, and the plant thrived on the sandy soils in Mecklenburg and Brandenburg anyway.

Today the main cultivation areas in Germany are in Brandenburg (300 ha), Mecklenburg (200 ha), Ludwigslust (120 ha) and Saxony-Anhalt (100 ha). Overall, the plant is only grown in Germany on a very small area.

The cut

When you plant sea buckthorn in the garden, pay attention to the following. The crown grows in width, and soon fruits only form on the outside, while the inside of the crown becomes woody. You can prevent this by cutting the shoots sharply back in January.

In order to produce a good yield, you should plant at least two female and one male shrub. Cut the female specimens alternately every year, then you can harvest annually.

Harvesting the sea buckthorn fruits

You can harvest from August. The orange color of the fruit is a sign of ripeness. Be sure to wear gloves. Injuries caused by the long thorns are painful and can hardly be avoided without protection.

You either pick the fruit or shake it off. The fruits must have ripened for a few weeks before shaking off. To do this, you put a blanket under the bush, then grab the branches and shake.


You don't have to worry much about the health of the sea buckthorn. If the soil is suitable, the shrub grows without any problems. The plant is hardly susceptible to diseases and pests. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Medicinal herb pages: (accessed: January 15, 2018), sea buckthorn
  • Suryakumar, Geetha; Gupta, Asheesh: "Medicinal and therapeutic potential of Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.)", in: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 138 Issue 2, 2011,
  • Aitzetmüller, K .; Xin, Y .: "Sea Buckthorn and Sea Buckthorn Oils - Recent Developments in China and Central Asia," in: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Volume 43 Issue 4, 1999, Wiley Online Library
  • Diandong, Hou et al .: "Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) oil protects against chronic stress-induced inhibitory function of natural killer cells in rats", in: International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology, Volume 29 Issue 1, 2015, Sage Journals
  • Bühring, Ursel: Practical textbook of modern medicinal herb science: basics - application - therapy, Haug, 2011
  • Hauenschild, Bettina: The language of plants and their healing properties, Irisiana, 2017
  • Liath, Claudia: The Green Grove, Books on Demand, 2012

Video: Propagating Seaberry - Softwood Cuttings in Water! (July 2022).


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