SEABUCKTHORN (Hippophae ramnoides)
locally called 'Ames', is a crop with
outstanding values that grows abundantly in higher Himalayan zones.
The unique crop can resist temperatures
as low as -43'c and as high as 40*c, and
prefers sandy and eroded soils. It grows
both on acidic and alkaline soils. It is a
deciduous thorny shrub with a lifespan
of 120-200 years.
The former USSR, China and Mongolia were the pioneers among the
Hippophae-growing countries, and they
harnessed the full potential of this plant
for various purposes like food, medicine
and cosmetics. They continue to lead in
their efforts to put it to more uses
(Himalayan Paryavaran, Vol 2, No 1).
The crop's fruits are orange-yellow
in colour and contain 92-95 per cent of
juice. This plant is unisexual and can be
easily propagated through seeds, root
cuttings and root turion.
Detailed biochemical analysis has
shown that it is a polyvitamin fruit plant
with carotenoids and flavanoids. The
vitamin content of the plant is much
higher compared to horticultural fruits
or vegetable crops. The proteins, amino
acids, fatty acids, pectin glucose, fructose, sucrose, malic acid, calcium, phosphorus and other macro and micro elements in the fruit make it indispensable
to pharmacological and food industries.
Oil extracted from Ames seeds, pulp
and leaves can be use -d for making
different kinds of life-saving medicines
and drugs for combating numerous
diseases, wounds, eczemas, ulcers,
burns of the skin and malnutrition,
and is considered superior to all other
Ames has several environmental
advantages also. It can protect soil
against wind erosion by building up a
litter of intertwined root needles. These
massive roots even play the important
rote of holding down land, especially on
sharp slopes or overwashed areas. Ames
wood is also the best firewood available.
It is easy to split, has a high calorific
vAue and tends to burn slowly with little smoke and ash. It can also be burnt
when green, an important advantage to
areas facing fuel shortage.
The fruits start ripening from the
first week of October and remain on the
plant throughout December. A very
simple method is employed to extract
the juice from the fruits. A person can
extract about 10 litres of pure juice at a
low cost without damaging the plant
and still gain large profits.
Cost-benefit analysis has showed
that if people of Hippophae-growing
areas engage themselves in this business,
they can certainly earn a lot of money
without putting in much effort. Also,
it is high time to start the cultivation
of Ames and other plants like mayarul
kirmor, tilni and bhenkel having similar
potentiality, on degraded and abandoned lands for eco-restoration due
to their ability to grow in extreme