General info about Fruit
The sea-buckthorns are deciduous shrubs in the genus Hippophae, family Elaeagnaceae. The name sea-buckthorn, hyphenated here to avoid confusion with the buckthorns (Rhamnus, family Rhamnaceae), is also referred to as “sea buckthorn” or “seabuckthorn”;
How to choose a ripe and fresh Fruit
The female plants produce orange berries 6-9 mm in diameter, soft and juicy, and rich in vitamin C (on average 120mg per 100g and sometimes up to 600mg per 100g); some varieties are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, and oils. The berries are an important winter food resource for some birds, notably Fieldfares.
Leaves are eaten by the larva of the coastal race of the Ash Pug moth and by larvae of other Lepidoptera including Brown-tail, The Dun-bar, Emperor Moth, Mottled Umber and Coleophora elaeagnisella.
Ways to prepare and serve the Fruit
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Fruit - raw or cooked. Very rich in vitamin C (120mg per 100g) and vitamin A, they are too acid when raw for most people’s tastes, though most children seem to relish them. Used for making fruit juice, it is high in vitamins and has an attractive aroma. It is being increasingly used in making fruit juices, especially when mixed with other fruits, because of its reputed health benefits. The fruits of some species and cultivars (not specified) contain up to 9.2% oil. The fruit is very freely borne along the stems and is about 6 - 8mm in diameter. The fruit becomes less acid after a frost or if cooked. The fruit is ripe from late September and usually hangs on the plants all winter if not eaten by the birds. It is best used before any frosts since the taste and quality of frosted berries quickly deteriorates.
Health Benefits and Warnings of eating Fruit
Astringent; Cancer; Cardiac; Poultice; Tonic; Vermifuge.
The twigs and leaves contain 4 - 5% tannin. They are astringent and vermifuge. The tender branches and leaves contain bio-active substances which are used to produce an oil that is quite distinct from the oil produced from the fruit. Yields of around 3% of oil are obtained. This oil is used as an ointment for treating burns. A high-quality medicinal oil is made from the fruit and used in the treatment of cardiac disorders, it is also said to be particularly effective when applied to the skin to heal burns, eczema and radiation injury, and is taken internally in the treatment of stomach and intestinal diseases. The fruit is astringent and used as a tonic. The freshly-pressed juice is used in the treatment of colds, febrile conditions, exhaustion etc. The fruit is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers. The juice is also a component of many vitamin-rich medicaments and cosmetic preparations such as face-creams and toothpastes. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to treat skin irritation and eruptions.
Charcoal; Cosmetic; Dye; Fuel; Oil; Pioneer; Soil stabilization; Wood.
Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be used as a shelter hedge. It dislikes much trimming. A very thorny plant, it quickly makes an impenetrable barrier. Sea buckthorn has an extensive root system and suckers vigorously and so has been used in soil conservation schemes, especially on sandy soils. The fibrous and suckering root system acts to bind the sand. Because the plant grows quickly, even in very exposed conditions, and also adds nitrogen to the soil, it can be used as a pioneer species to help the re-establishment of woodland in difficult areas. Because the plant is very light-demanding it will eventually be out-competed by the woodland trees and so will not out-stay its welcome. The seeds contain 12 - 13% of a slow-drying oil. The vitamin-rich fruit juice is used cosmetically in face-masks etc. A yellow dye is obtained from the fruit. A yellow dye is obtained from the stems, root and foliage. A blackish-brown dye is obtained from the young leaves and shoots. Wood - tough, hard, very durable, fine-grained. Used for fine carpentry, turning etc. The wood is also used for fuel and charcoal.
Hippophae salicifolia (Willow-leaved Sea-buckthorn) is restricted to the Himalaya, to the south of the Common Sea-buckthorn, growing at high altitudes in dry valleys; it differs from H. rhamnoides in broader (to 10 mm broad), greener (less silvery) leaves, and yellow berries. Hippophae tibetana (Tibetan Sea-buckthorn) occurs in the same area, but at even higher altitudes in the alpine zone. It is a low shrub not growing taller than 1 m with small leaves 1-3 cm long.
Two further species, Hippophae goniocarpa and Hippophae neurocarpa, have been described from China, but are not widely accepted as distinct.
Recipes made mainly with this Fruit
For hundreds of years, the people of central and southeastern Asia have used sea-buckthorn as an agent of traditional medicine to prevent and treat various ailments.
Sea-buckthorn berries are multipurposed, edible and nutritious, though very acidic and astringent, unpleasant to eat raw, unless ‘bletted’ (frosted to reduce the astringency) and/or mixed as a juice with sweeter substances such as apple juice or grape juice. They can also be used to make pies or jam. The consumer industry uses sea-buckthorn berries for jams, juices, lotions, and liquors.
Oil from the seeds and berries has numerous uses in traditional medicine. It is used as a healing remedy for many ulcerative and inflammation-related disorders such as canker sores, esophagitis, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and cervicitis. Russian cosmonauts have used them while in orbit.
Recently, sea-buckthorn has been used as an ingredient in several commercially available cosmetic products and nutritional supplements.
For its troops confronting extremely low temperatures (see Siachen), India’s Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) has established a factory in Leh to manufacture a multi-vitamin herbal beverage based on sea-buckthorn. The fruit of the plant has a high vitamin C content—300 milligrams per 100 grams in contrast to 50 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams found in orange—besides containing Vitamin A, E and flavonoids.
The beverage, apart from being nourishing, has a freezing point of −22 degrees Celsius which helps it remain in liquid form even in sub-zero temperatures. Called ‘Chharma’ in native language, it may have properties believed from traditional medicine to be useful in treating wounds and burns.