Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sea Buckthorn/ Havtorn

Hippóphaë rhamnoídes

When you pluck the orange berries of sea-buckthorn here in October they are crushed easily and the bush bites you with little thorns. The sea buckthorn grows in the sandy soil in the tough wind and the sea fog on the western coast of Jutland, the fine and healty orange berries are very popular in the Nordic kitchen. It is   a little pearl among wildgrowing Danish fruitbushes, and it has got many names like the Danish sandtorn, strandpil, sandtidsel, ørkenbusk, klintepil or klintetidsel and the  English sandthorn, sallowthorn, or seaberry.

The common sea-buckthorn Hippóphaë rhamnoídes, is by far the most widespread of the species in the genus, with the ranges of its eight subspecies extending from the Atlantic coasts of Europe right across to northwestern China. In western Europe, it is largely confined to sea coasts where salt spray of the sea prevents other larger plants from out-competing it, but in central Asia it is more widespread in dry semi-desert sites where other plants cannot survive the dry conditions. In central Europe and Asia it also occurs as a subalpine shrub above tree line in mountains, and other sunny areas such as river banks. They are tolerant of salt in the air and soil, but demand full sunlight for good growth and do not tolerate shady conditions near larger trees. They typically grow in dry, sandy areas. In China the sea-buckthorn was used for production of medicine for more than 1200 years and it has been traced in Europe back to the 1500s. Plants were used primarily for medicine in Europe against diseases like fever and stomach pain.

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 having broader and greener leaves, and yellow berries. A wild variant occurs in the same area, but at even higher altitudes in the alpine zone.It is a low shrub not growing taller than 1 metre.

The Hippóphaë rhamnoídes /sea buckthorn grows in Denmark primarily upon banks and dunes at the sea since it needs sun and calcareous soil. The fruits are small orange berries, and contrary to many other fruits the berries sit on the plant even when ripe. This makes harvesting difficult, not at least because of the thorns.
The fruits are not easy to get hold of - and when you've finally got a hold they splash out among your fingers. There is a method:  put a cloth under the bush and shake the plant. Another method: cut some branches with many fruits and put them in the freezer for half an hour and the fruits can be beaten off.

The taste of the orange fruits is sourish, but after frost they are milder. During starvation periods the sea buckthorn was a valuable vitamin supplement for a poor family. In the old days people in the country eat a mix of milk, syrup and buchthorn.The berries give also a fine taste to a spice snaps, and they are fine in marmalade and porridge. Cremes and lotions are made from oil pressed from the kernel.

Glatved strand, Djursland, habitat for sea-buckthorn.

The bush is very hardy and thrives well in an infertile soil. This is possible because it has a coexistence with actinomyces fungi which in the root tubers are able to bind the free nitrogen from the air. This means that the bush can survive in clean sand. The flowers in April are very insignificant, and the plant needs both male and female flowers in order to make fruit. In September the bush shows lots of orange fruits. It is a grand sight and the fruits are very healty. The berries have an extremely high content of C-vitamin, in average 400 mg pr. 100 g. Compared to this it is recommended that an adult daily takes 75 mg C-vitamin, but the berries also contains other vitamins, A-, B-, E-, and P-vitamins.  And also antioxidants, Omega 7 fatty acids and dietary fibers.

The sea buckthorn is easy to recognize among the other plants in the landscape with its narrow silver shining leaves. If it gets much light it will become a very broad, dense, thorny bush, since sea buckthorn forms root suckers. It can fill large areas with an inaccessible thicket - and this is a paradise for the birds. The fruits are an important winter food ressource for some birds, notably fieldfares, but also pheasants eat them. Leaves are eaten by the larvaes of lepidoptera-species. The bush is useful in shelterbelts, game depots or as a slope protection in loose and sandy soil. 

In Denmark scientists have began to do experiments with the buckthorn as a medicine which might have a beneficial effect on stomach ulcer.

Folk Medicine:
Different parts of sea-buckthorn have been used as traditional therapies for diseases. As no applications discussed in this section have been verified by science and sufficient clinical trial evidence, such knowledge remains mostly unreferenced outside of Asia and is communicated mainly from person to person, therefore falling into the category of folk medicine. Grown widely throughout its native China and other mainland regions of Asia, sea-buckthorn is an herbal remedy reputedly used over centuries to relieve cough, aid digestion, invigorate blood circulation and alleviate pain. Bark and leaves may be used for treating diarrhea and dermatological disorders. Berry oil, taken either orally or applied topically, may be used as a skin softener. For its hemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects, berry fruits are added to medications for pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood and metabolic disorders in Indian, Chinese and Tibetan medicines. Sea-buckthorn berry components have potential activity against cancer.
 Sea-buckthorn is distributed free of charge to Canadian prairie farmers by PFRA to be used in shelterbelts.
When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea-buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea-buckthorn's characteristic high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats, and the bottom layer is sediment and juice.
Sea-buckthorn fruit can be used to makepies, jams, lotions and liquors. The juice or pulp has other potential applications in foods or beverages In Mongolia, it is made into juice, with concentrates also available. In Finland, it is used as a nutritional ingredient in baby food.
To overcome high acidity, juice made by adding five-parts water to one-part sea-buckthorn and sweetened to taste, put through a blender and strained, is said to taste like orange or peach juice. 
Sea-buckthorn leaves, dried and shredded, can be made into teas.

Kilde: Louise Lundgren Berg, Professionshøjskolen Metropol ; Jens Thejsen,Jordbrugets uddannelsescenter; Wikipedia.

photo Glatved strand, Djursland September 2012/ fieldfare Horsens Nørrestrand January 2010 : grethe bachmann

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