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Sea Buckthorn

Long grown as a wind and salt tolerant hedging shrub, adaptable to a wide range of climatic zones and soil types, sea buckthorn is also a valuable nitrogen fixing plant. In many northern temperate countries the plant is  highly valued for its berries, which are produced on a large scale for processing into juice and medicinal products. Careful plant breeding over the last 40 years has produced a range of cultivars particularly suited to berry production. The berries are exceptionally high in Vitamin C, typically containing 10 to 100 times as much as an apple weight for weight. The berries are also rich in carotenoids and Vitamin E, amino acids and other antioxidants.

Worldwide, indigenous sea buckthorn covers an estimated 1 million hectares, with a further 300,000-500,000 hectares of plantation or orchard. Wild sea buckthorn habitats typically yield 0.2-0.75 tonne of berries per hectare, with yields of 5 tonnes per hectare occurring in German orchards populated with selected cultivars, and even higher yields being reported elsewhere. Individual bushes can produce up to 7kg of berries per annum.

Sea buckthorn extracts have been used in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions incuding cancer, heart disease and burns. For the last few decades, it has been the subject of an enormous amount of research, initially in the Soviet Union and Russia, but also in China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Germany. Sea buckthorn is extremely hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to -40 Celsius. It has been used as a pioneer plant on former industrial sites and also in a defensive capability in areas threatened by soil erosion.

Sea buckthorn probably ranks in the world's top 20 most useful plants.

Irish Sea Buckthorn Growers' Association


Sea buckthorn is dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants. Only the female plants bear fruit. However,in order to achieve pollination, both male and female cultivars must be grown in the same area. Only a small number of male plants are needed, typically five to ten males per one hundred female plants.

Please note that sea buckthorn sold as a hedging plant in conventional nurseries will generally be a random mix of unnamed male and female plants grown from seed, and will be very slow to bear fruit. The difference between named cultivars propagated vegetatively and random seed-grown plants is comparable to the difference between named cultivars of walnut or chestnut, and trees grown from seed. Although probably not a good choice if fruit production is the main objective, seed-grown sea buckthorn can be useful for planting on derelict industrial sites as nitrogen fixers, soil stabilisers/improvers and for biomass production (see below).

The named cultivars of sea buckthorn sold here are of German origin and have been propagated specifically for high quality fruit production. They are more suitable for the Atlantic climate than Russian or Finnish named cultivars and will come into fruit early in life.

Sea buckthorn grows into a large shrub and can be planted up to 5 m apart. For a good fruiting hedge (as opposed to a tight wind-break), plant 1.5-2 m apart in in double rows with 1.5m between each row.

Although it will succeed in a wide variety of climatic conditions, sea buckthorn will generally fail in waterlogged ground. It prefers well drained ground with a pH of 6.0-7.0, but will tolerate a pH of between 5.5 and 8.0. It will thrive in coastal zones and has high tolerance of salt.

Named varieties selected for optimum berry production. Both male and female plants are required for successful berry production. There should be at least one male plant within 10-15m of each group of female plants (the female plants produce the berries).

Container-grown plants (supplied all year round subject to availability)
  Unit Price (euro)
1 plant 2-9 plants 10-49 plants 49-199 plants 200+ plants
Container-grown plants (supplied all year round subject to availability)
Sea Buckthorn, named varieties P9 container *
Sea Buckthorn, named varieties 3l container *
Sea Buckthorn, named varieties 7l container
Sea Buckthorn, named varieties 10&12l containers
* items marked with an asterix can be shipped, but will be removed from their containers and sent barerooted (barerooted season only). The other items are for collection only.

Female  cultivars

A fast-growing, 4 to 5 m tall shrub, fruiting densely and in abundance;fruits deep orange, medium-large, oval to cylindrical, ripening from end of August, rich in fruit acids, vitamin C and E.
Very tough and vigorous. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Needs regular pruning to maintain good shape

A strong fast growing growing upright shrub with strong fruiting branches. Unpruned will grow to 4 m in height. Less thorny than Askola. Fruits medium-large, light orange. One of the earliest varieties, ripening from mid August. Possibly less tolerant of wetter soils.

A slow growing upright shrub with strong fruiting branches; fruits large, light orange, ripening from early September. Grows well as a hedge. Will tolerate most soils. One of the best cultivars for exposed sites.

A broad, upright and vigorous shrub with overhanging fruiting branches, less thorny than Askola. Fruits medium-large, deep orange-red, ripening September/October. High oil content.

Orange Energy
Sturdy growth with wide spreading side branches, moderately thorny. Fruits large, oblong to oval, lightly hairy, bright yellowish-orange, colours solid, dense fruiting already from mid to end September.
Needs regular pruning to maintain good shape

A vigorous anjd very robust cultivar with upright growing habit, only slightly thorny. Red-orange berries, pleasantly sweet, fruit stalks  long allowing easy picking, ripening end July to early August. A cultivar that is highly recommended for both domestic and commercial production. One of the most ornamentla of the sea buckthorn varieties - an attractive addition to any garden.

Normally available in 3 litre, 7 litre and 12 litre pots all year round. Small plants in P9 liners available February 2015

Male Cultivars

Pollmix 1
Early flowering pollinator, fast growing with upright growing habit, sturdy, almost thornless shoots.
Pollinator for Orange Energy and Sirola

Pollmix 3
Late-season pollinator, flowering latest of the Pollmix group , with a broad, upright growing habit, and weakly thorned.
Pollinator for Askola, Hergo and Leikora.

Pollmix 4
Mid to late pollinator, fast growing with upright habit, almost thornless. Pollinator for Askola, Hergo and Leikora.

Normally available in 3 litre, 7 litre and 12 litre pots all year round. Small plants in P9 liners available February 2015

Seed-grown Sea Buckthorn

Seed-grown Sea Buckthorn is suitable for hedging situations where fruit production is of secondary importance. Very wind resistant and frost hardy. Will provide excellent wind protection for other fruit trees and shrubs. Grows in most soils but requires well-drained ground. Random mixture of male and female plants.

Supplied barerooted, available November 2014 onwards

Sea buckthorn seeds

Seed-grown sea buckthorn can be used in many applications, most notably the reclamation of former industrial sites and other bare derelict land. The least labour-intensive method of getting plants established is to roll the seed into 'golf balls' composed of a mix of compost and binding agent (a few seeds per ball) and lob into the target area. For more controlled production, sow individual seeds into pots or into a seed bed and transplant to final location after one year.

Please note that sea buckthorn can prove invasive in certain circumstances, notably on sand dune systems where there is limited competition from existing shrubs or trees. Never scatter sea buckthorn seeds into natural ecosystems unless it is native to that particular region (sea buckthorn is not native to Ireland).

Sea buckthorn seeds require stratification: a chilling period of about four months that triggers than seed into germination once conditions warm up. Stratification can be carried out in a fridge at home: simply mix the seeds into moist compost, wrap in a plastic bag and put into the bottom of the fridge for four months. The bag should be opened once a week to let in fresh air - this reduces the risk of rot. The optimum temperature is around or slightly above freezing point.

Sea buckthorn seeds can be collected in the wild or bought from specialist sources. We sell ready-to-go pre-stratified seed, of French provenance. The price is €10.00 for about 500 seeds inclusive of postage. The seed can be supplied from the end of March until the beginning of June.