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May be ready to give up on Seaberry

 
pollinator
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I planted 3 Seaberry plants of decent size in spring 2019. Two females, one male. One of the females died so I should be left with a “Lord” and a “Mary.”
Since then, they’ve grown big and gangly and spread like crazy through my chip bed. But no fruit. Not even any discernable flowers.

I’m sure they’re doing something as a pest confuser between fruit trees and maybe some nitrogen fixing. Just not sure they’re worth their trouble. They absolutely should be bearing by now according to what I’ve read.  Is anyone in the Midwest actually seeing fruit off these?
Seaberry.jpg
Hippophae rhamnoides fruiting missouri food forest garden
 
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They take a while to fruit in my experience, but are well worth it once they start. Also, it might be that the labels were wrong or something and you have two females. When I plant seaberries I generally plant two males and several females.
 
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I've tried (and failed) a few times to grow Sea buckthorn (Seaberries, Hippophae rhamnoides) here on Skye. I suspect I am too wet and mild for them to be happy, even in what I considered to be a well drained spot they just faded away, so I never splashed out on named varieties. Some struggled on for a couple of years - annoying because I'm sure they ought to like it here - maybe the soil is just too acid as well?
I suspect that yours may be just too happy, so are not bothered about reproduction (flowers). If they generally look healthy, I would be inclined to give them a few more years and keep a close eye on them when the flowers should appear, they are pretty tiny I believe. If the timing is wrong between Male and Female flowers, that could cause a problem, or if there are not the right insects around to pollinate them.
I really liked some of the sea buckthorn fruit I tried raw in Cornwall UK, so they are worth waiting for in my opinion. I may try to grow them here again if I run out of other plants to try....
 
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Seaberry growing from seed can take 3-5 years to bear fruit. Maybe you will have flowers next year.
 
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In the spring of 2020, I planted one each: Lord, Mary, Eva, Frugana and in the fall I got a donation cutting and planted an Orange Energy. This is my first year with fruit. The Mary is pretty abundant and the Eva has six or eight berries. The Frugana died last year, the Orange Energy seems OK, but maybe smallish (but so is Eva). The donated unknown cutting and the Lord are the healthiest of the bunch. Everything takes a long time getting started on my sandy loam, so this doesn't seem problematic to me, but I'm sure hoping for better in the long run.
 
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My experience is that Seaberry needs full sun and takes a while to be happy. I lost one female I bought, the second year after planting, when I would have thought it should have been fine.

However, I couldn't find the pictures in my files (obviously not using the correct search terms, but I'm not good with technology) but I *know* I found somewhere on the web, really good close-up pictures of the male and female flowers. It allowed me to confirm that the plant I'd started from a cutting was a male. The flowers are *really* subtle and they're only out for a short time. I've certainly found nursery plants mislabeled in the past, so I'd recommend searching for good pictures and looking at the right time of year before giving up on them.

However, I'm also aware of their native environment, "usually found near the coast, often forming thickets on fixed dunes and sea cliffs", so I'm also wondering if they're fussier about their soil and environment than we think. I definitely think that they're not happy being an understory plant, and they also don't seem to tolerate deer browse. However, if you get them really happy, I suspect they'd be good as "chop and drop" materials, even if they don't fruit reliably in your ecosystem.
 
Christopher Weeks
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Jay Angler wrote:they also don't seem to tolerate deer browse.



That's interesting. My stand of seaberries is in the corner of my garden most accessible to the deer who travel the edge of the woods and I haven't seen any obvious evidence of clipped branches. I'm going to go scrutinize them when the sun comes up. (But location isn't everything. They might just prefer to enter the garden proper to snack on my brassicas, which they seem to love this year.)

ETA: yeah, no sign of deer browse on the seaberries. They mostly leave hazels alone, too, but will demolish apples left in their reach.
 
James Landreth
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I know seaberries are used to reforest in Manchuria, China, so they do well in pretty extreme climates. I've had some randomly die on me. I think they're a live hard, some will die, kind of plant

I agree that their flavor is fantastic, so I recommend hanging in there
 
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Where I live, seabuckthorn is native. Unbelievable vicious thorns, berries that are far more sour than lemons, with an astringent edge and not much of a fruit scent or flavor. But they are colonizing a very hostile environment and creating ecosystems, which is positive. Here the ravenous goats don't even eat them. The main creature that does are the double humped semi-feral camels.
 
Jay Angler
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Rebecca Norman wrote:...Unbelievable vicious thorns, berries that are far more sour than lemons, with an astringent edge and not much of a fruit scent or flavor.

I think here, most people are planting "improved" varieties. Supposedly, one of my varieties can be eaten out of hand, but it hasn't fruited yet, so I can't tell you if that's accurate for my palette. I have read that most people grow it for its medicinal quality and add small quantities to smoothies. I haven't figured out what I'll do with the fruit if I ever get any, but most of the fruit I can grow here isn't particularly high in Vit C and Seaberries supposedly are, so I'm giving it a go.

ETA: supposedly we had feral camels in the interior, but I've not heard of any on my Island. Imported for some use which humans stopped doing, so they just let them go... stuff of legend..!  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cariboo_camels
 
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Matt, your Seaberry looks like a great support plant for any new fruit tree or shrub you want to plant on either side of it.  It can be chopped and dropped, contributes to thick mulch, and fixes nitrogen at the same time, and confuses pests, disease free.  Seems almost perfect.  Have you checked out Syntropic Agroforest planting patterns?   Denser plantings than you might normally do with support plants in between food-bearing trees and shrubs, ankle-high rough chop and drop mulch.  

Very excellent system.
 
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