Sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides
Sea buckthorn is an extremely hardy plant and is not picky when it comes to its growth medium. It thrives as well on humid or wet land as it does on dry and land containing very little nutrients. It also has excellent resistance to drought, floods, wind, and salt. However, it does need a large amount of light. Sea buckthorn is one of the first species to colonise a new area, for example, rocky outcrops that have risen from the sea. The berries have a very high nutritional value, so much so that sea buckthorn has earned its reputation as a superfood.
Sea buckthorn berries have one of the highest vitamin C concentrations of all plants. A hundred grams of sea buckthorn berries can contain as much as 200-450 mg of vitamin C. This is about three times the vitamin C concentration in orange juice. The most valuable component of sea buckthorn is the oil, which contains a high concentration of vitamin E, vitamin A precursors, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are needed to keep the skin, mucous membranes, heart and blood vessels healthy.
Although sea buckthorn is extremely bitter, it is recommended due to its excellent nutritional value. Dried sea buckthorn berries can be used just as they are in porridge, for example, or in salads or yoghurt. Sea buckthorn berries have traditionally been used in Finland to make purées, jams and juices.
Something to try
Pumpkin and sea buckthorn salad 3 dl grated pumpkin, 1.5 dl sea buckthorn berries, 0.5 dl sea buckthorn juice, as much liquid honey as is needed for sweetening. Simply mix all the ingredients together and serve as an accompaniment to meat dishes, for example.
Gathering the plants
Sea buckthorn berries ripen in about four months, so in Finland they are ready to pick around October. Picking them is quite laborious: the berries are firmly attached to the spiky bushes, and break easily when picking. The berries are easiest to pick when the first frosts have come.
Other interesting facts
Sea buckthorns are extremely bitter, and cause the mucous membranes to contract. They also have antiseptic properties. Especially in Chinese and Russian folk medicine, sea buckthorn was and still is used to treat various ailments, such as skin infections, burns and eye diseases.