top of page

Sea Buckthorn - Hippophaes rhamnoides

Foraging and identification of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

Edible plant - novice Season - Autumn Common names Sea Buckthorn, Sandthorn, Seaberry, Sallow Thorn, Swallow Thorn, Willow Thorn

Scientific name meaning: Hippophaes is from the Greek Hippos, meaning horse, and Phaos, meaning light or shiny. Rhamnoides is also of Greek origin, from Rhamnos and -oides meaning resembling a Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn Habitat


Found in coastal areas, particularly on sand dunes

Sea Buckthorn plant structure

Overall structure

A shrub reaching 1-3 metres in height. It has dense branches and appears in thick patches, due to its growth via suckers

Sea Purslane Leaves


The leaves are thin and lance-shaped reaching 1-8 cm in length.

They are dark green above, very pale underneath and covered in silvery scales, which gives them a dusty appearance

Sea Buckthorn Stems


Smooth and brown, with substantial thorns

Sea Buckthorn flower coming soon


The flowers are very small, with two sepals but no petals



Bright orange berries, up to 1cm in diameter, in dense clusters. They sit close to the branches on small stems

Sea Buckthorn

Possible lookalikes

In this habitat, you are unlikely to confuse Sea Buckthorn with anything else


Use as a food The berries are extremely sour. They can be eaten raw, pressed into juice or cooked. Cooking or freezing reduces the sourness. Oil can also be extracted from the berries Hazards When harvesting, care must be taken not to be injured by thorns. Also, most of the UK coastline is designated SSSI, so ensure you are allowed or have permission to forage. In addition, some sand dunes are out of bounds for public access to protect them from erosion

Use in herbal medicine and medicine The berries are particularly high in vitamins A, C and E, are a source of fatty acids, and contains flavinoids. Sea Buckthorn has been used to treat parasites, radiation burns, wounds, eczema, digestive disorders, cardiac disorders, skin irritation and acne. Its effectiveness in reducing cancer incidence and halting proliferation of cancer cell growth is currently being investigated. If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner Other uses Used to obtain dye (yellow and black), for wood turning, as an oil, for making charcoal, and in toothpastes and face creams, Importance to other species The leaves are a food source for many moth larvae, the suckering roots aid in stabilising sand dunes, and it creates an important nesting habitat for the Nightingale

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page