This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
Let us say at once that this plant is in no way related to the Buckthorns, properly so called. It is another example of the readiness with which our fathers seized upon a mere superficial resemblance as justification for the partial repetition of a name, and to save them the trouble of finding a new one.
Sea Buckthorn is the sole representative in this country of the Natural Order Elaeagnaceae, and is a low shrubby tree, growing on sand-hills and cliffs on the East and South-east coasts from York to Sussex. The branches commonly end in a spine, which has brought the plant its alternative name of Sallow-thorn. The alternate leaves are a dull leaden green above, but the underside is covered with silvery scales. At first they are egg-shaped, but lengthen after the plant has flowered. The flowers are of two kinds, borne on separate plants (diaecious), one kind containing stamens only, the other a pistil alone. The staminate flowers are produced in clusters from the axils, and consist of two sepals with four stamens. The pistillate flowers are produced singly. The ovary is enclosed in the calyx-tube, and develops into the globose orange-yellow fruits. Flowers from May to July.
The fruits do not appear to be used in this country ; though in Tartary they are said to be made into a pleasant jelly, and in the Gulf of Bothnia they are used in the concoction of a fish-sauce. Their flavour is decidedly acid.
The name has been derived from the Greek hippos, a horse, and phao, to give light, from a supposed power of curing equine blindness; also from hippos, and phao, to destroy, from its fatal effects when eaten by horses; and from hypo, under, and phao, to shine, in allusion to the silvery underside of the leaf. The reader will kindly select that which seems the most reasonable - or reject them all.