'Indian Summer' Sea Buckthorn, Seaberry, Sandthorn
Height: 5 metres (m) (16 feet (ft.))
Spread: 3.5 m (12 ft.)
Recommended Spacing: 1 m (3 ft.)
Growth Rate: moderate
Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
Note: suckers profusely; can be difficult to establish; does not tolerate poorly drained or shady sites; suitable for saline or nutrient poor soils
Origin: introduced from Eurasia
Sea buckthorn is a thorny shrub that prefers well-drained, light to medium loamy soils in full sun. The seed strain 'Indian Summer', developed through the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Tree Improvement Program is tolerant of drought, and nutrient poor soils, the latter due to its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. In contrast, sea buckthorn is sensitive to flooding and will not grow in wetlands or areas subject to prolonged flooding.
Small yellow flowers appear in early spring before the long, 3.0 to 8.0 centimeters (cm), narrow, silver-green leaves are formed. Small berries are clustered around the stem and are ripe when yellow or orange in late August to early September. Plants produce either male or female flowers, with fruit produced only on the female plants.
The shrubs usually start producing berries in the third or fourth year after planting. It is estimated that a mature, female shrub will produce from 3.0 to 5.0 kilograms (kg) of berries.
Plant sea buckthorn as an outside row in farmyard or livestock shelterbelts; as a single row or in multiple row field shelterbelts; or as a roadside shelterbelt. The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, other vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. The berries have a unique flavour and are commonly used to make juices and jellies.
Although harvesting can be a challenge, mature shrubs can yield 3.0 to 5.0 kg for processing into food (jam, jelly), pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, beverage, dyes and more.
Sea buckthorn also provides valuable wildlife cover and the persistent fruit is eaten by winter birds such as chickadees, pheasants and grouse. The flowers are an early pollen and nectar source for bees and other insects.
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