Hippophae rhamnoides | Sea-buckthorn | Draighean mara



Conservation status

Not Assessed

Legal status

Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted). Listed as a schedule 9 species under Articles 15 & 15A of the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985 (Article 15A not yet enacted).

First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of Medium Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Release in Nature

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Erosion control

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed

Yes. This species underwent a  Non-native species APplication based Risk Analysis  in 2014.

Overall risk of this species to Ireland is categorised as: MODERATE with a MEDIUM level of confidence.

Overall conclusion summary:  The rapid spread of the plant once established in sand dune systems, coupled with its deleterious impact on this Annex I habitat presents a serious problem for Ireland in fulfilling its obligations under the Habitat Directive. 

 View the full risk assessment:

Species Biology


Deciduous, spiny shrub generally 3m tall, leaves 2-8cm long and lanceolate (Stace, 1997). Translucent orange fruits, 6-10mm in size (Stace, 1997).


Forms dense shrub patches to the exclusion of native vegetation. particularly on vulnerable sand dunes (Reynolds,2002). Has rapidly expanded in parts of its native range, covering 2.4ha in 1957 to 60.9 ha in 1996 (Richards & Burningham, 2011). On dunes where it is present soil pH and carbon/nitrogen ratios are lower and organic matter content is higher than in grassland plots (Isermann et al., 2007). The dense shrubs cause a decrease in species number, due to a decline of grassland species found on open dunes (Isermann et al., 2007) and even in areas where H. rhamnoides has been removed these desirable species do not recolonise the area for a number of years (Richards & Burningham, 2011).




Dioecous, wind pollinated, flowers in winter and fruits in autumn (Preston, 2002), it also spreads by suckering (shoots which grow from a bud at the base of the shrub) (Reynolds, 2002).

Pathway and vector description

Planted in the late 1830s on sand dunes in Co Wexford (Reynolds, 2002). Spreads locally by self-seeding and suckering, large scale dispersal as a result of deliberate plantings for dune stabilisation (Reynolds, 2002).

Mechanism of impact


Broad environment


Habitat description

Naturalised on sand dunes and sandy ground (Reynolds, 2002).

Species group


Native region

Europe, Temperate Asia


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Widespread & Locally abundant. Common on eastern and northern coasts, largely absent from the west of Ireland.

Native distribution

Native to most of Europe, including Britain and into central Asia (Preston,2002)

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.



Isermann, M., Diekmann, M., & Heemann, S. (2007). Effects of the expansion by Hippophaƫ rhamnoides on plant species richness in coastal dunes. Applied Vegetation Science, 10(1), 33-42.

Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin.

Preston, C.D., Pearman, D. A. & Dines, T. D. (2002). New atlas of the British and Irish flora. An atlas of the vascular plants of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, Oxford University Press.

Richards, E. G., & Burningham, H. (2011). Hippophae rhamnoides on a coastal dune system: a thorny issue? Journal of Coastal Conservation, 15(1), 73-85.

Stace, C. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.