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Uses and habits of Sea Buckthorn

 
Posts: 165
Location: Greenville, Mississippi, USA
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Hi to all,

I was reading a bit about Sea Buckthorn and wondering if anyone who has some direct experience with it could share what its uses are, additionally while I know its touted as a cold weather species, what about high temperatures and warm locations for it?  How would it do in the sub-tropics? Its flavor and culinary uses? Any caveats around livestock? And its thorny?  But strong enough for livestock not to push against it in its mature form?  Many thanks.
 
gardener
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Where I live in the Himalayas, seabuckthorn is native, and rampant. The thorns are really really thorny, and the berries are small, hard to collect, and very very sour. Personally I don't get a fabulous flavor beyond the sourness, as I do with, say, blackberries.

However, in countries like the US, varieties are available that have bigger berries and/or less thorns, and I've heard that some varieties have a good flavor too.

We have a cold climate so I can't tell you how it would do in the sub-tropics.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Rebecca I thank you for that, that fills a few gaps. Best, Mike
 
pollinator
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It grows everywhere on the coast here as well, low growing when it's pruned by wind, but quite tall and straggly when it gets free rein, It's very thorny with unbearably sour fruit that taste musty to me.  The berries hang on all winter until around February the birds then start to eat them as there is nothing else left. It grows down in the south of England so it doesn't need cold but I don't know how well it does with heat.

The berries are pretty much impossible to pick, the way they do it here is to cut the entire branch, put it in the freezer and then knock off the frozen berries.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Thanks Skandi, so the concensus is that the berry is not that palatable but it probably makes a pretty effective thorny hedge. Much appreciated. Mike
 
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Location: Gloucestershire, UK
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According to Ray Mears in his Wild Food book there are two good ways to harvest Sea Buckthorn berries. If the berries are still firm then you should use a coarse comb. If more squishy then the best way is to grip the base of the branch and slide your hand up the stem, letting the juice run into a bucket held below it.
Ray Mears suggests straining and parboiling the juice. The seeds can be roasted and ground to make them more digestible. For whole pulped berries - make into pancakes or turn into fruit leathers, or make into jelly (for fish) or cordial.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Thanks Zoe. Oh gosh anything that will make a pancake has gotten my attention!  I appreciate that very much. M
 
Zoe Ward
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Here is the excerpt of the episode on youtube of Ray Mears discussing sea buckthorn and the nutritional analysis they did on it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2KtgypZ8Nc
 
pollinator
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Yeah the thorns are wicked. I normally harvest the berries by cutting branches, snipping the thorns off, and then picking off the berries from he base to the tip in a spiral because in that way the berries hang apart more.

The berries are intensely flavored. And probably too sour for the average North American palate. I water the juice down by about half and add about half a teaspoon of sugar per cup. It tastes similar to passionfruit when prepared this way.
 
pollinator
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I don't remember what varieties I have, but mine are delicious.  They are very sour until ripe, but they are very good once the are.  The thorns are terrible though.  Overall, I love them.  And the chickens really love the berries.
 
pollinator
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I planted 3 varieties here in NW Missouri in 2019. No fruit yet but I'm wondering if they will now in their 3rd summer.
Out of "Lord" "Mary" and "Sunny" varieties, Sunny died (luckily Mary was also female to pollinate with Lord.) The remaining Lord and Mary varieties are doing great but word of warning: They sucker like crazy BUT only in my chip bed. I see no signs of suckering out into the lawn. Suckers pull easy. I'm trying to contain them with comfrey on either side.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Thanks Trace Matt and Nick, I can easily see how you could develop a love hate relationship with the thing.  I am looking for plants that can provide an impenitrible fence to stop people from coming onto the property uninvited, so I get the impression that to contain it, I could use it up against the blacktop road and layer other less wandering thorny plants to keep it contained on the other side.  Id have a very long perimeter to do, so suckering is not a bad thing so long as I can figure out a barrier. Would you say its more aggressive than blackberries and raspberries?
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Or perhaps it could be kept in check by a mixed herd of sheep and goats---any toxicity issues with the leaves or seeds?
 
Trace Oswald
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Michael Littlejohn wrote:Thanks Trace Matt and Nick, I can easily see how you could develop a love hate relationship with the thing.  I am looking for plants that can provide an impenitrible fence to stop people from coming onto the property uninvited, so I get the impression that to contain it, I could use it up against the blacktop road and layer other less wandering thorny plants to keep it contained on the other side.  Id have a very long perimeter to do, so suckering is not a bad thing so long as I can figure out a barrier. Would you say its more aggressive than blackberries and raspberries?



It will stop people.  I can't believe anyone would try to get through a hedge of them.  Mine sucker, but I wouldn't say they are aggressive like the berries you mentioned.  If you have a way to mow or brush hog a strip along them, I would think you could keep them contained easily with mowing once or twice a year.  Otherwise, as you said, I think if you made a hedge row with other trees on the side of them away from the road, you could contain them.  Mine don't pop up under the white pines that are right next to them for instance.  I think blocking them from getting sun with other bushes would keep them in.  Mine have been in place quite a few years and while I have quite a few suckers that have popped up, they aren't taking over a large area or anything.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Very cool Trace, sounds like a plan, and an overall good strategy to try to remember to block the spread of invasives by blocking sunlight.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Zoe Ward wrote:According to Ray Mears in his Wild Food book there are two good ways to harvest Sea Buckthorn berries. If the berries are still firm then you should use a coarse comb. If more squishy then the best way is to grip the base of the branch and slide your hand up the stem, letting the juice run into a bucket held below it.



Ouch! Painful to even imagine! If the seabuckthorn bushes are wild then that juice would not be suitable for vegetarians, ... and would you finish straining and bottling the juice before or after getting a ride to the hospital?

Sorry, no, I do realize there is such a thing as cultivated thornless seabuckthorn. With a wild (or any thorny) seabuckthorn, a comb would not work. The thorns are perpendicular to the stems and are up to an inch long, and woody, with a needle-sharp point.

We collect the berries by going out before sunrise hits the bushes so they'll still be cold, laying a tarp or old sheet under, and whacking them with long sticks vigorously. Then we have to pick through them to get out the leaves and sticks and thorns and junk that came with them. Of course it is rough on the plant, but they grow back even more the next spring and it doesn't harm them in the long term.

Supposedly the leaves are good for livestock but they're so thorny that most livestock can't eat them. Here in the Indian Himalayas, there are seabuckthorn forests in the northermost valley of India, some ten feet tall, and they are the primary food of a couple of dozen semi-feral double-humped camels that were abandoned when the Central Asian trade stopped abruptly around 1949.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Thanks Rebecca, good stuff.
 
pollinator
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Regarding heat tolerance and taken with a grain of salt:

I have some first year seaberries sitting out in 4 inch pots that I never found the time to build a place for. (I plan o using them as a living fence/hedge on the edge of my property and food forest.) They survived a week of 90-95F weather, in tiny black pots so they may tolerate the heat ok, especially when they get a lil bigger.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Thanks Dan, a piece of the puzzle much appreciated.
 
pollinator
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There's a long-fingered tool used to harvest olives. I wonder if the same tool would work with seaberries?
 
pollinator
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Up here in NE Ohio, someone was looking for a thorny / useful hedge and I suggested Hippohae rhamnoides

Useful plant, thorny AF as it grows here, looks nice and useful fruit

I grow out a few cultivars but am a relative newbie with the plant

Ben Falk talks a lot about oxymels, check it out:

 
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I planted 3 sea buckthorn plants about 6 years ago, and now have a nice little thicket (they do sucker, but nothing like blackberries, and they will invade grassy areas if you let them). I'm in NW Oregon, so we get a lot of rain, some snow and ice, then a hot dry summer, and they handle all of it. They're prolific at my place, so I harvest by cutting branches, freezing them, then knocking the berries off. Then I process them in a stovetop steam juicer, which makes quick work of them. I freeze the juice and then combine with apple juice for drinking, which makes a very refreshing drink. They are absolutely a great hedge for keeping out unwanted humans and larger critters.  
 
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I make Seaberry Sorbet from the frozen berries using a Donvier ice cream maker.  It tastes exactly like Orange Nehi soda, and is a great vitamin C hit if I feel poorly.  I use a melon baller to serve it.  Along with other healthy-based ices like zucchini-mint, yellow squash-cardamom and peach, it makes a beautiful colorful dessert.  
 
pollinator
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Any tips on taking cuttings? I have access to some mature buckthorn, but I'd love advice on how to propagate it onto my own property.
 
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Hi Rebecca,
so you're in SECMOL, great. i am missing my 9th straight year around there, and i have worked with that group before....i hope theyre not scaring the natives too much with the fashionable insanity going around.....the seabuckthorn as you know is the highest vitamin c content or percentage of any fruit on Earth, so far as i have heard, and the point is not to pop them in your mouth for snacks but to extract them and use as a superfood. on this, they stand as among the very best-best anywhere.....
 
pollinator
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I am in NE Ohio.  Got 1 male and 3 different female sea buckthorn fromBuzz Fervor at Perfect Circle in Vermont.  He is a wealth of knowledge and every plant I have ever gotten from him has been top shelf.  The berries come after plant above 5-6 feet tall.  Super high in vitamin c.  I find them like a sour orange and quite like them.  Sooooo thorny.  I harvested by cutting several branches (it grows and suckers so fast, I didn't feel bad about cutting) freezing and knocking them off.  I somehow have a veritable thorn garden out there: black locust, hawthorn, sea buckthorn and some kind of thorny berry whose name has currently escaped me.
 
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Where did you order them from, Matt?
 
Rebekah Harmon
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Hey Chris! I got some cuttings this year from DirtPatchHeaven on YouTube. She took 10 inch cuttings, in the winter, and stuck 4 or 5 in a half-gallon pot filled with potting soil. She said to keep them very wet, so I kept them in toy totes or cardboard boxes filled with a garbage liner and a little water in the bottom all the time.

In 2-3 weeks, they came to life! In February!! Very exciting 😀. Not all of them made it: they didn't like my grey water experiment with them. DOE! 🤦‍♀️ I planted them last week, with sun cover over them. Can't wait to see how they do in my food forrest. They're supposed to be nitrogen fixers!
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Ellendra Nauriel
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im imlach wrote:..the seabuckthorn as you know is the highest vitamin c content or percentage of any fruit on Earth, so far as i have heard, and the point is not to pop them in your mouth for snacks but to extract them and use as a superfood. on this, they stand as among the very best-best anywhere.....




I was under the impression they were #3 on the list of most concentrated natural sources, but the only one on the top 10 list that would grow in temperate climates.

Still, no need for vit C supplements if you have seaberries on hand!
(I like the sorbet idea, Merry!!!)
 
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A little vanilla adds a nice flavor too!
 
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