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Ecological Study of Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.

) in Mustang and
Manang Districts, Nepal
Khilendra Gurung and Vimal N P Gupta
Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.), or Dalechuk, as known at local level, is a multipurpose plant
species of high Himalayan habitat. There are two species of Seabuckthorn viz Hippophae salicifolia
D. Don and Hippophae tibetana Schlecht., found frequently in the high Himalaya. They are known
to bear root nodules and fix nitrogen. Similar to H. tibetana in habit but with more prostrate
structure, lower plant population, and distribution largely limited to southerly exposed
riversides was also found (H. rhamnoides L.?). In this study, they are included under H. tibetana.
Based on quadratic measurements ecological studies on Seabuckthorn were carried out in
Mustang and Manang districts. Range of distribution, density, and frequency of associated
species were also recorded. Composite sampling of soil was also done and the samples were
analyzed for major nutrients (NPK). Comparison between NPK content and organic matter were
studied for the habitats with and without Seabuckthorn.
Results showed that H. salicifolia occurred between 2,000 m to 2,800 m in Mustang and 2,100 m to
3,600 m in Manang. Associated species of plants were Pinus wallichiana, Salix sp., Arundinaria
falcata, and Berberis aristata. H. tibetana occurred in relatively drier habitats with elevations
between 2,900 m to 3,950 m in Mustang, while in Manang the range appeared to be pushed
above i.e. between 3,300 m to 4,200 m. As usual to the high altitude central Himalayan habitats,
the associated species were found to be Berberis erythroclada, Caragana brevispina, Lonicera spinosa,
Rosa sericea and Juniperus indica.
Organic matter content varied as 0.1 to 5.03, Nitrogen content-ranged from 0.012% to 0.941%,
Phosphorus from 12.15 kg/ha to 170.77 kg/ha and Potassium from 127 kg/ha to 778 kg/ha. In
general, soil analysis indicates that nutrient contents in Seabuckthorn available sites were more
than that of barren mountain lands. They are nitrogen-fixing plants and therefore, considered
potential for soil fertility improvement.

Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.), locally known as Dalechuk is native to mountain region of
Nepal. It is a multipurpose plant species suited for soil conservation and well known for
its nutritional and medicinal values. National Herbarium and Plant Laboratory, Plant
Research Division; Nepal at Godawari has specimens of three species of Hippophae,
namely Hippophae salicifolia D.Don, Hippophae tibetana Schlecht. and Hippophae
rhamnoides L. However, only two species of Hippophae viz, Hippophae salicifolia and
Hippophae tibetana are identified in the high mountain areas of Nepal (Rongsen, 1992;
Shrestha, 1999 and Gupta et al., 2001).
The plant has a very strong tap and horizontal root system. A symbiotic association has
been found on roots of Seabuckthorn resulting root nodule formation. Soil requirement
of Seabuckthorn is sandy and silt loam with good drainage (Rongsen, 1992). Characters
such as wide ecological adaptation, fast growth, strong coppicing and suckering habits
coupled with efficient Nitrogen fixation (60-180 kg/ha per year) make Seabuckthorn
well suited for soil conservation, soil improvement and marginal land reclamation
(Rongsen, 1992; Khosla et al., 1994).

Though Seabuckthorn is a multipurpose plant species, it is one of the least known and
unexplored species in Nepal. Thus, this work attempts to study the ecology and range
of distribution of Seabuckthorn in Manang and Mustang districts of Nepal.

Materials And Methods

Study Area
The study area extends from Ghansa to Thengar, lying between 280 36’ 77”–290 15’ 2” N
latitude and 830 35’ 701” – 830 58’ 45” E longitude in Mustang district. Similarly, in
Manang district, the study area extends from Tache, Dharapani to Lattar, lying between
280 31’ 52”– 280 44’ 17” N latitude and 830 54’ 23”–840 28’ 28” E longitude.

Analytical Study
Quadratic studies of Seabuckthorn were done based on well-established methods
(Kershaw, 1973). Requisite size of the quadrat was determined by species area curve
method (Barbour et al., 1980). Appropriate size of the quadrat for the study of
Hippophae salicifolia was 400 m2 (20 m x 20 m) and Hippophae tibetana was 25 m2 (5 m x 5
m). Plant specimens were identified with the help of National Herbarium and Plant
Laboratory, Plant Research Division, Godawari (KATH).

Density is calculated by using the following formula according to Zobel et al. (1987)
Total number of individuals of species" A"
Density ( pt / ha) = x 10,000
Total number of quadrats sampled x Area of quadrats (m 2 )

Frequency is calculated as follows according to Zobel et al. (1987)
Total number of plots in which species" A" occured
Frequency ( F ) = x 100
Total number of plots sampled

Soil Analysis
Sampling Technique
About 1kg of soil was collected from Seabuckthorn growing areas and from the barren
lands from the depth of 10 cm and collected samples were packed in a clean polythene
bags tightly. NPK and Organic matter content were analyzed in NARC, Khumaltar.

Soil Organic Matter (SOM)

The percentage of organic matter was analyzed by Walkley-Black method and
calculated by using formula according to PCARR (1980).
10 ( S − T ) x 0.0069 100
O.M. (%) = x
S Weight of soil
S = ml of ferrous solution required for blank
T = ml of ferrous solution required for sample

Nitrogen (N)
The organic Nitrogen in the form of ammonium was analyzed by using modified
Kjeldahl method (PCARR, 1980).
(T − B ) x N x 14
Percentage N in soil = x 100
T = Sample titration, ml of standard acid
B = Blank titration, ml of standard acid
N = Normality of standard acid
S = Oven-dry weight of sample in mg

Available Phosphorus (P2O5)

It was measured using modified Troug's Method (Ayres-Hagihara). Spectrophotometer
was used in this method (PCARR, 1980).
Phosphorus (P) kg /ha. = F x R
F = Coefficient factor from blank solution
R = Reading in Spectrophotometer

Exchangeable Potassium (K2O)

It was tested by using flame Photometer method (PCARR, 1980).
Potassium (K) kg/ha = F x R
F = Dilution factor
R = Reading in Photometer

Range of Distribution
Hippophae salicifolia occurred naturally between 2000m- 2800m, from Ghansa to Yamkin
khola in Mustang. The luxuriant growth of H. tibetana was recorded between 3450m-
3950m from Jhongkhola to Thengar in Mustang.
In Manang, Hippophae salicifolia were observed at the altitudes between 2100m- 3660m
from Tache and Dharapani to Tijilon. Similarly, H. tibetana were recorded in between the
altitude of 3300m - 4200m from Pisang to Lattar.

Density of Seabuckthorn
The density of species, H. salicifolia and H. tibetana were calculated as given in figures (1,
2, 3 and 4).

Figure1: Density of H. salicifolia in M ustang

Altitude (m) Density (no/ha)

Ghansa Kaikukhola Ghumaune Letekhola Kokhethanti Dhampu Larjung Yamkinkhola

Figure 2: Density of H. tibetana in Mustang

Altitude (m) Density (no/ha)

Jhongkhola Ghami Charang Marang Jharkot Purang

Dhakmar Nyamshuk Lo-manthang Chhoser Phuw a Thengar

Figure 3: Density of H. salicifolia in Manang Tache

4000 Dharapani
3500 Thonche
3000 Bagarchhap
2500 Tilche
Thanchow k
Surki khola
0 Chame
Altitude (m) Density (no/ha) Tijilon

Figure 4: Density of H. tibetana in Manang Pisang

25000 Humden

20000 Manang
5000 Tilichobasecamp
0 Lattar
Altitude (m) Density (no/ha)

Frequency of Associated Species

Common Associates from Mustang and Manang are as follows:

Figure No. 5: Common Associates of Hippophae salicifolia in Mustang and

Frequency %
P inus wallichiana Salix sp. Berberis arist at a Arundinaria falcat a Alnus nepalensis

Mus tang

Figure No. 6: Common Associates of Hippophae tibetana in Mustang and Manang.

Frequency %

Berberis Caragana Lonicera Ephedra Rosa sericea Cotoneaster Artemisia sp. Clematis sp. J uniperus indica
erythroclada brevispina spinosa gerardiana microphyllus

Mus tang

Ecology of Hippophae salicifolia

The plant species occurred on the fragile lands with weak soil composition and unfertile
river fords. Newly emerging plants were grown abundantly along the fords where the
associated species were lacking. The plant species invade the barren lands as the
pioneer species of secondary succession. This species grown and flourishes with a short
interval from altitudinal point of view with occurrence in temperate regions at
elevations ranging from 2000 m to 3600 m.

Ecology of Hippophae tibetana

This species occurred frequently in alpine tundra habitats ranging from altitudes of 2900
m to 4200 m. Excluding few exceptions, all the plants were recorded within the
periphery of 100 m apart on either side from the water sources.
Similar to H. tibetana in habit but with more prostrate structure, lower plant population,
and distribution limited to southerly exposed riversides were also recorded (H.
rhamnoides L.?). But in this study, it is considered under H. tibetana. Generally, they are
distributed in barren, least fertile open fields, landslide zones near water sources,
mostly on south west facing slopes of high altitudes in Mustang and Manang.

Soil Analysis
Table: 1 Soil Analysis of H. salicifolia growing area of Mustang District
Organic matter Nitrogen Potassium
S.N. Location Phosphorus kg/ha
(%) (%) kg/ha
1 Ghansa 1.21 0.070 36.49 175
2 Lete Khola 3.48 0.203 35.03 136
3 Larjung 0.13 0.127 24.81 136
4 Barren 0.10 0.059 21.51 129


Table: 2 Soil Analysis of H. tibetana growing area of Mustang District

S Organic matter Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium
.N. (%) (%) kg/ha kg/ha
1 Jharkot 1.14 0.083 23.35 778
2 Ghami 2.01 0.127 58.38 175
3 Chhoser 0.67 0.051 63.26 767
4 Barren 0.10 0.012 12.15 127

Table: 3 Soil Analysis of Hippophae salicifolia growing of Manang District

Organic matter Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium
S.N. Location
(%) (%) kg/ha kg/ha
1 Bagarchhap 1.34 0.064 46.13 343
2 Surkikhola 2.01 0.121 37.95 175
3 Chame 5.03 0.941 170.77 292
4 Barren land 1.03 0.039 37.17 162

Table: 4 Soil Analysis of Hippophae tibetana growing area of Manang District

Organic matter Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium
S.N. Location
(%) (%) kg/ha kg/ha
1 Humden 1.07 0.051 19.77 186
2 Khangsar 0.27 0.076 18.97 652
3 Lattar 0.13 0.025 13.18 147
4 Barren land 0.12 0.021 17.51 134

The result showed that organic matter content varied as 0.1% to 5.03%, Nitrogen content
ranged from 0.012% to 0.941%, Phosphorus from 12.15 kg/ha to 170.77 kg/ha and
potassium from 127 kg/ha to 778 kg/ha in the study site.

Discussion and Conclusion

Geographical and climatic factors seem to greatly affect the distribution and
morphological characteristics of Seabuckthorn. Variations in the distribution of
Seabuckthorn in Mustang and Manang districts were associated to differences in micro-
climatic conditions. The study indicated that Manang has higher individual of H.
salicifolia forest compared to Mustang, which may be due to the moist climate reflecting
abundance of high altitude forest in Manang. But individuals of H. tibetana scrub was
found more in Mustang than in Manang district due to windy and drier habitats of
The organic matter content and Nitrogen were higher in H. salicifolia growing habitats
than that of H. tibetana growing habitats in both Mustang and Manang districts.
However, the exchangeable Potassium was found comparatively higher in H. tibetana
growing sites of both districts. But the amount of available Phosphorus varies
considerably in both districts. In general, soil analysis indicates that major nutrient

contents in Seabuckthorn available sites were more than that of barren land without it.
Rongsen (1992) identified the symbiotic mycorrhizal/actinorrhizal associations as
Frankia found in Seabuckthorn root. This symbiosis between the association and
Seabuckthorn results in root nodule formation that can fix the maximum amount of
atmospheric Nitrogen to soil. Quangzhong et al. (1989) and Daiqiong et al. (1995)
reported the same results in North and North and Northwestern China. Hence,
Seabuckthorn is Nitrogen fixing plant and therefore considered potential for soil fertility

• The role of local people is quite important for the conservation and management of
Seabuckthorn. The plans for the development and promotion of Seabuckthorn must
justify the following facts:
• Importance of Seabuckthorn on soil conservation, soil improvement and soil
reclamation should be transferred to local people directly, in order to reduce the
resource loss and the barren land reform.
• Intercropping practices of Seabuckthorn with horticultural varieties should be
encouraged for soil fertility improvement.

We are thankful to TISC/NARMSAP for technical support and members of
ecological survey team for their painstaking assistance during the field visit.

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