Sea Berry or Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is one of the most widely grown hardy fruiting plants in the world, yet most Americans have never heard of it. The large, ornamental shrubs grow 6 to 10 feet tall and have attractive narrow silver leaves. They flower in spring and bear abundant clusters
of bright orange 3/8 inch fruits in late summer and fall. The berries persist well into winter and, if any are left on the bushes, they are very much enjoyed by birds. Cut branches laden with fruit make attractive, long-lasting floral displays. The plants are tough and disease resistant, surviving for centuries in Siberia due to their hardiness of up to -40 degrees F (Zones 3 to 8). They also
tolerate salt spray, making them ideal for coastal plantings.
What most people are unaware of is the value of the Sea Berry fruit. The berries are very high in Vitamins C, A and E plus omega fatty acids and minerals. They have a tart, citrus-like flavor that complements other foods and make a delicious substitute for orange juice when sweetened, the flavor likened to a blend of orange and passion fruit. During the Cold War, East Germany used Sea Berry as a healthful substitute for orange juice. The leaves and tender branches of Sea Berry are a source of protein and other nutrients for wildlife and domestic animals. It’s being investigated for its ability to reduce the incidence of cancer and also for halting or reversing the growth of cancers. The juice is a component of many vitamin-rich cosmetic preparations used to reverse the effects of aging. Sea Berry juice and its oils are said to heal burns, eczema and radiation injury. Also, a yellow dye is extracted from the skins of the fruit.
Sea Berry (Sea Buckthorn) has earned the praises of Dr. Oz, who deems it the new “Miracle Berry” with benefits that include 10 times more vitamin C than oranges and the 3rd highest source of Vitamin E in the plant world. Other little-known facts are that Sea Berry oil was used to heal burn victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Russia uses the oil on the skin of the cosmonauts to help heal radiation burns that occur upon re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. China used Sea Berry juice as its national drink during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To hear more of what Dr. Oz has to say about Sea Berry, check out this Dr. Oz video on YouTube.
In Europe the fruit is also made into sauces, jellies, candy, ice cream and as a base for liqueurs and wine. Sea Berry has become a valuable commercial crop in Germany where it is harvested by machine and made into delicious juice and other products. Sea Berry’s German name is Sanddorn and if you have the opportunity to visit Germany, you will find juice and other items in many stores. China has become one of the primary producers of Sea Berry products.
You can grow your own nutritious Sea Buckthorn or Sea Berry. A pollinator plant is required. Plants are wind pollinated, so allow at least one male plant for pollinating every 6 to 8 female plants. Both male and female selections are available from Jung Seed in spring. Our female variety, Leikora, hales from Germany and is prized for both its fruit and ornamental value. It bears tear-drop shaped, bright orange fruit that ripens in early to mid-September. Our Male selection is a good pollinator and also a fine ornamental with large, dark golden-brown flower buds. We ship bare root plants that are 12 to 24 inches tall. They will grow quite rapidly into attractive, large ornamental shrubs. Size can be controlled with pruning. Plant in almost any location with at least 1/2 day of sun. Bearing usually begins about 2 to 3 years after planting. Harvest the fruit by hand or cut off the fruit laden branches and freeze them for later use. The frozen berries can easily be shaken off and, after thawing, make great juice.