Introducing Hippophae salicifolia – the willow-leaved sandthorn

Our mystery South London street tree has been identified thanks to a correspondent who was able to recognise a fine avenue of Hippophae salicifolia. Several others suggested sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) which, as it turns out, was close but discounted due to size (tree rather than a bush), evergreen foliage and few berries. My own guess at a food plant of giraffes was wide of the mark…

Hippophae salicifolia, street tree, London

Word on the Street: Hippophae salicifolia street tree on Curlew Street, London

The positive identification was verified by the Hippophae salicifolia page on Hillier Nurseries’ website featuring a picture of the exact same street tree I had been struggling to identify, apparently there is a 15m specimen to be found at Kew too.

The common moniker that has emerged for this tree is the very unsatisfactory ‘willow-leaved sea buckthorn’. This plant’s natural habitat is dry Himalayan river valleys hundreds of miles from the sea, so I detect botanical imperialism at work in a name relating to our familiar European coastal species more appropriately known as sea buckthorn.

In my opinion our tree needs a new name – Hippophae are sometimes called sandthorn or sallowthorn; our tree is certainly not sallow, so I am proposing willow-leaved sandthorn.

Any takers?

Other Willow-leaved sandthorn (Hippophae salicifolia) resources:

Hippophae salicifolia on the Plants For a Future website
Salicifolia is listed on the Hippophae Wikipedia entry, but there is no separate species page yet.
My willow-leaved sandthorn Flickr set

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3 Responses to Introducing Hippophae salicifolia – the willow-leaved sandthorn

  1. Rob says:

    I wonder if the berries have any of the health benefits associated with sea buckthorn.

    • paulitzer says:

      From Plants For A Future: “The fruit itself tastes like a sharp lemon… What makes this fruit rather special is that it is quite possibly the most nutritious fruit that can be grown outdoors in Britain. It is very rich in vitamins (especially C) and minerals and also contains essential fatty acids.” And that’s just for starters!

      • Rob says:

        Interesting. I’ve extracted the juice from sea buckthorn and mixed it 1:3 with clear honey to make a tangy salad dressing, so will look out for this one.
        A nitrogen fixer too, I see.

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