Leh Berry
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Leh Berry
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Leh Berry, Sea-buckthorn • Ladakhi: ཙེརམང་ Tsermang, སསྟཱལུལུ་ Sastalulu
Botanical name: Hippophae rhamnoides subsp. turkestanica    Family: Elaeagnaceae (Silverberry family)
Synonyms: Hippophae turkestanica

Leh Berry is a large deciduous shrub or tree sometimes reaching up to 18 m. Crown is irregular in shape with spiny, grey branches. Leaves are linear-lanceshaped, alternate, 2-6 cm long, covered on both sides with silvery-white scales, undersides with brown dots. Flowers are inconspicuous, yellow, unisexual appearing before leaves. Fruit is a 1-seeded, reddish orange berry, 5-12 mm, soft, juicy and rich in oils. The ancient Greeks named the genus Hippopha or "glittering horse," its leaves were part of the diet for racing horses, and they also believed that horses became plump and healthy when maintained on pastures with these trees. According to another legend, sea buckthorn leaves were one of the preferred foods of the Pegasus (flying horse). The species is distributed in more than 20 countries of Europe and Asia, and its morphological traits vary considerably according to this wide range of climatic conditions. Sea-buckthorn berries are edible and nutritious, though very acidic (astringent) and oily, unpleasant to eat raw, unless 'bletted' (frosted to reduce the astringency) and/or mixed as a juice with sweeter substances such as apple or grape juice.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale
Photographed in Nubra Valley, Ladakh & Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh.
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