Sea buckthorn has an attractive shape and can easily be identified by its leaves, which are linear in shape, grey-green above and silvery below. The bud scales and young shoots have shield-like starry hairs. This is a pioneer shrub and does not tolerate shade; but it does tolerate direct sunlight, wind, flood and even salt. It is widespread throughout Europe and western Asia, though sufficiently open areas are rare. In Finland, sea buckthorn is native to Ahvenanmaa ( Åland Island) and the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia but, given the right conditions, it also grows well when planted further inland.
The bright orange berries are both showy and extremely healthy, being rich in vitamin-C and beneficial oils. In Finland, they are harvested both from the wild and from orchards. In France and China, for example, commercial plantings are widespread. Many varieties have been produced in different parts of the world for improved crops, but most of them are unsuited to the Finnish climate.
Sea buckthorn is dioecious, i.e. the male and female flowers grow on separate bushes, so to get a crop care must be taken to plant both male and female bushes together. The berries appear on the branches of the female bushes in tight clusters and are difficult to pick since they often have no stalks, besides which there are lots of sharp thorns to prick the unwary finger. In producing new varieties, the aim has been to improve crop abundance, produce berries with a stalk, but also to reduce thorniness.