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
Abstract 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)

Density ( pt / ha) = Frequency

Total number of individuals of species" A" 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)

Frequency ( F ) =

Total number of plots in which species" A" occured 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).

O.M. (%) =

10 ( S − T ) x 0.0069 100 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).

Percentage N in soil =

(T − B ) x N x 14 x 100 S

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 Where,
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 Where,
F = Dilution factor R = Reading in Photometer

Results 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 3450m3950m 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

3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Altitude (m ) Density (no/ha)









Figure 2: Density of H. tibetana in Mustang 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0 Altitude (m) Jhongkhola Dhakmar Ghami Nyamshuk Charang Lo-manthang Marang Chhoser Density (no/ha) Jharkot Phuw a Purang Thengar

Figure 3: Density of H. salicifolia in Manang
4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Altitude (m) Density (no/ha)

Tache Dharapani Thonche Bagarchhap Tilche Latamarang Thanchow k Surki khola Chame Tijilon Pisang Humden Manang Khangsar Gunsang Yakkharka Tilichobasecamp Lattar

Figure 4: Density of H. tibetana in Manang 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 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 Manang. Frequency % 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
P inus wallichiana Salix sp. Berberis arist at a

in Mustang and

Arundinaria falcat a

Alnus nepalensis

Manang Mus tang


Figure No. 6: Common Associates of Hippophae tibetana in Mustang and Manang. Frequency % 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
Berberis erythroclada Caragana brevispina Lonicera spinosa Ephedra gerardiana Rosa sericea Cotoneaster m icrophyllus Artem isia sp. Clem atis sp. J uniperus indica

Species Manang 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
S.N. 1 2 3 4 Location Ghansa Lete Khola Larjung Barren Organic (%) 1.21 3.48 0.13 0.10 matter Nitrogen (%) 0.070 0.203 0.127 0.059 Phosphorus kg/ha 36.49 35.03 24.81 21.51 Potassium kg/ha 175 136 136 129



Table: 2 Soil Analysis of H. tibetana growing area of Mustang District
S .N. 1 2 3 4 Location Jharkot Ghami Chhoser Barren land Organic (%) 1.14 2.01 0.67 0.10 matter Nitrogen (%) 0.083 0.127 0.051 0.012 Phosphorus kg/ha 23.35 58.38 63.26 12.15 Potassium kg/ha 778 175 767 127

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

Table: 4 Soil Analysis of Hippophae tibetana growing area of Manang District
S.N. 1 2 3 4 Location Humden Khangsar Lattar Barren land Organic (%) 1.07 0.27 0.13 0.12 matter Nitrogen (%) 0.051 0.076 0.025 0.021 Phosphorus kg/ha 19.77 18.97 13.18 17.51 Potassium kg/ha 186 652 147 134

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 microclimatic 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 Mustang. 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 improvement.


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.

Acknowledgement We are thankful to TISC/NARMSAP for technical support and members of ecological survey team for their painstaking assistance during the field visit. REFERENCES  Barbour, M.G.J.H. Burk and W.D. Pitts (1980). Terrestrial Plant Ecology. Benjamin 
Cummings Publ. Co. Inc., London. Daiqiong, L., L. Yimin and C. Xinhai (1995). Benefits and Prospects of Arial Sowing of Seabuckthorn on the Loess Plateau of China. In: L. Shunguang and L. Min (Eds.), Proceedings of International Workshop on Seabuckthorn, Beijing. 139-150. Gupta, V.N., V.P. Nepal, D.P. Poudyal, S. Ghimire, K. Adhikari and C.K. Subedi (2001). Ecology and Distribution of Seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp.) Resources in Northwest Nepal. A Report Submitted to TISC/NARMSAP, Hattisar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Kershaw, K.R. (1973). Quantitative and Dynamic Plant Ecology. Edward Arnold Limited, London. Khosla, P.K., R.N. Sehgal, V. Sharma, A.K. Bhatt and V. Singh (1994). Genetic Resources of Seabuckthorn in Himachal Pradesh. A Report of Seabuckthorn Task Force. PCARR (1980). Standard Methods of Analysis for Soil Plant Tissue, Water and Fertilizer. Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resource Research Division, 105-Banos, Loguna, Republic of Philippines. Quangzhong, L., W. Zhengmin and L. Min (1989). Multiple Effects of Artificial Common Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) Forests in Western Liaoning. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.), Xian, China. 288-297.

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Rongsen, L. (1992). Seabuckthorn: A Multipurpose Plant Species for Fragile Mountains. Occasional Paper No. 20, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal. Shrestha, T.B. (1999). Nepal Country Report on Biological Diversity. IUCN, Kathmandu, Nepal. Zobel, D.B., P.K. Jha, M.J. Behan and U.K.R. Yadav (1987). A Practical Manual for Ecology. Ratna Book Distribution, Kathmandu, Nepal.


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