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[permaculture] re: seabuckthorn
There is an area of coastal nature reserve near Edinburgh in Scotland where
sea buckthorn is in danger of taking over completely!
It was introduced in one relatively small area a number of years ago
specifically to prevent sand dune erosion. Since then it has spread
mightily and formed large areas of inpenetrable thicket. Conservation
volunteers are regularly enlisted to attempt to check its growth by cutting
On the basis of my observation in this area (Aberlady Bay) here are a few
Sea buckthorn seems to be very good for a number of purposes:
1. remediating soil erosion, especially in coastal areas, to which it is
2. providing a dense inpenetrable wall of spiky branches seven feet high
and more.(I haven't seen it used like this, but it might make a good
3. giving great shelter to nesting birds, who can get on with their lives
in the thicket undisturbed by predators such as cats and foxes.
It also has a few 'problems' (but this surely depends on how you look at
1. The spiky branches really are spiky. You have to be careful when you
pick the fruit!
2. The bushes seem to spread mainly by suckering. At Aberlady Bay this is a
problem because much of the area is grazed by sheep. They leave the way
clear for the suckers to grow unhindered by competition, since buckthorn is
the only thing the sheep won't eat. A mature bush can send out suckers
quite some distance from its main base.
So, I would suggest you plant it in a place where you are prepared to keep
it in check on a regular basis, or else in a place which you would like to
see become overrun in a few years.
Something that is not clear from Aberlady Bay is what the natural
succession process is for sea buckthorn. Its clear that it will become
monocultural thicket if left to itself, but what then? Eventually it will
be overtaken by trees, but I haven't seen this happening at all. The
buckthorn at Aberlady Bay is around thirty years old, I think, and has no
competition as yet.
The Plants for a Future database on the www has more details of this and
Revd Dr Richard Owen Griffiths
Oxford OX2 9AT
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