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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

sea buckthorn

Other Common Names Include:

Siberian pineapple, Sea Berry, Sandthorn or Swallowthorn

Latin Name: Hippophae rhamnoides L.

Plant Family: Elaeagnaceae

Close Relatives: None

Uses and Markets: Culinary (juices, teas, fresh and frozen fruit); medicinal (fruit and oils used for the treatment of internal and topical maladies); personal care products; essential oil

Sea buckthorn orchardSea buckthorn berries ready for harvestMost sea buckthorn varieties are thorny, which complicates manual fruit harvesting.
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

A woody shrub to small tree with an extensive root system capable of fixing nitrogen.  Adapted to a wide variety of soils including marginal land with poor nutrient and water retention capacities. 

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from cuttings, less commonly by root divisions and seeds 

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Autumn or winter (seeds and cuttings).

Field Seeding Date:


Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

1-1.5 m

Between row spacing

5-6 m

Optimal Soil temperature at planting



No current Ontario fertility recommendations exist. Research and recommendations from outside Ontario do not necessarily apply to Ontario growing conditions. This crop fixes its own nitrogen and supplemental nitrogen application is usually not required. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

All soil types

Soil pH

Acidic to alkaline soils.

Special requirements for growth habit

Rows should be oriented in a north-south direction.  Plants are either male or female.  Orchards require 1 male for every 7 female plants and regular pruning.

Optimal Temperature Range

22-28 °C, temperate weather crop.

Temperature sensitivity

Hardy to -40°C 

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation usually not required.

Days to harvest

ca. 110-120 days; harvests typically begin in early August.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvesting of berries is very labour intensive.  Mechanical harvesters are used in Europe.

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades

Additional Harvest Notes

Berry laden branches may be harvested, frozen at -20˚C, and the berries rolled off of the branches.  This reduces yields in the following year, as berries form on 2nd year wood.

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Berries are stored at low temperature or flash frozen for later consumption or processing.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): N/A

Temperature: 4 to 6°C

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 10-14 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Caterpillar defoliators (gypsy moth, green fruitworm), aphids, multi-coloured Asian ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis – does not feed on plant, concern due to possible contamination of juice when harvesting mechanically), mites (e.g. Aceria hippophaena, Aculus tibiales)

Diseases: Damping off, wilts (e.g. Verticilium dahliae, Fusarium spp.)

Other: Deer

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea), spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), redheaded flea beetle (Systena frontalis), thrips, earwigs

Diseases: brown rot (Monilniia spp.), anthracnose (Colletotrichum acutalum), scab

Other: Birds, rodents

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date most of the pests observed in Ontario sea buckthorn do not appear to have had serious impacts on the trees or fruit production, with the exception of Verticillium wilt, which has caused mortality of young trees when sea buckthorn was planted into soils with a history of the disease.  However, some of the reported pests have significantly impacted yields in other sea buckthorn-producing areas.  Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly of Asian origin that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many fruit crops.  It was first reported in Ontario in 2011, but has not yet been reported from sea buckthorn.  The potential impact of SWD on sea buckthorn is unknown, but growers should monitor for this pest.

This crop is in Crop Group 13-07:  Berry and Small Fruit Crop Group and subgroup 13-07B: Bushberry Subgroup. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.   For a list of pest control products registered on sea buckthorn, refer to OMAFRA Publication 360: Guide to Fruit Production.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., and S. Westerveld. 2009. Non-traditional crops demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  2. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  3. Zandstra, J. 2009-present. Agronomic research on sea buckthorn. University of Guelph, unpublished.
  1. Li, T.S.C and T.J. Beveridge. 2003.  Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): Production and utilization.  NRC Research Press, Ottawa, Canada
  2. Li, T.S.C. and W.R. Schroeder. 1996.  Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.): A multipurpose plant.  HortTech. 6(4): 370-380