Common sea-buckthorn (Eng), espino amarillo, arto blanco, cambrón (Spa), arç groc, espí groc (Cat), elorri (Baq), espinheiro-marítimo (Por).
“One day we were strolling along the Isere, in a place full of sea-buckthorn. Seeing ripe fruits in those little trees, I was curious to try them, and discovering they had a very pleasant light acidity, I began to eat those garnets to refresh myself...”
'Reveries of a solitary walker', Jean-Jacques Rousseau
This is a very branching shrub that can acquire the form of a tree of up to 9 m tall. One of its most noticeable characteristics is that the twigs, leaves and flowers are covered by scales shaped like silver sunshades or drawing pins, which, over time, become brown or rust-coloured. It also has long steely thorns, like the Silver berry (Elaeagnus angustifolia), which belongs to the same family, although in the common sea-buckthorn they come off easily. The leaves are simple, deciduous, alternate, long and very narrow. They are up 20-60 mm long, 2-6 mm wide, and have a very short stalk. They are shiny green on the upper side and silvery white on the underside due to the scales. The margin is entire and smooth. There are male and female flowers, yellowish or greenish in colour, which are found on different plants, meaning the trees are either male or female. The fruits are globose or ovoid, and orangish in colour with brown spots. They measure 4-8 mm and ripen after the summer.
This is a plant found in moist soils that are sandy or gravelly in texture. In its original range on the Iberian Peninsula it usually grows in unstable, sunny places, as well as along watercourses in glacial deposits (moraines). Like the Silver berry, it has nodules on its roots that house symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria, meaning this tree helps to fertilise the soil. It grows between 700 and 1600 m above sea level and is indifferent to the substrate, although it grows very well in basic soils. It also resprouts very well from the root.
This species is native to Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. The subspecies fluviatilis Soest is found in the Alps, Apennines, and the Rhone and Rhine river valleys. On the Iberian Peninsula is only native to the Gállego River basin and its surroundings (Huesca): the Tena Valley, around the Lanuza reservoir; River Aragón in Castiello de Jaca; and close to Panticosa. This tree has been much planted as an ornamental, to stabilse loose terrain and as a living hedgerow, especially the subspecies Hippophae rhamnoides L. subsp. rhamnoides, which is considered a potential invader in some coastal areas of Portugal as well as in the centre and north of Spain.