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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rhamnus cathartica
Common buckthorn
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Rhamnus
Subgenus: Rhamnus
Species: R. cathartica
Binomial name
Rhamnus cathartica

Rhamnus cathartica (Buckthorn, Common Buckthorn or Purging Buckthorn), is a species in the family Rhamnaceae, native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia, from the central British Isles south to Morocco, and east to Kyrgyzstan.[1][2]

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6–8 m tall, with grey-brown bark and spiny branches. The leaves are elliptic to oval, 2.5–9 cm long and 1.2–3.5 cm broad; they are green, turning yellow in autumn, and are arranged somewhat variably in opposite to subopposite pairs or alternately. The flowers are yellowish-green, with four petals; they are dioecious and insect pollinated. The fruit is a globose black drupe 6–10 mm diameter containing two to four seeds; it is mildly poisonous for people, but readily eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.[3][4]

The common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is shade-tolerant, moderately fast-growing and short lived. This species is a tough, durable tree which adapts to urban or suburban environments; and virtually any area it is dispersed in. It is widely regarded as a major invasive species whose shade prevents the establishment of native trees or shrubs. It has become the tagret of endless efforts to eradicate it from homesites, parks and woodland areas. It is however, difficult to eradicate by any means because it sprouts vigorously and repeatedly from the root collar following cutting girdling, burning and poisoning. [5]

The species was originally named by Linnaeus as Rhamnus catharticus, but this spelling was corrected to cathartica as the genus name Rhamnus is of feminine gender.[6]

Cultivation and uses

The bark and fruit were used as a purgative in the past, though their potentially dangerous violent action and side effects means they are now rarely used.[7]

The wood is hard and dense, but little-used.

Food plant of the Brimstone butterfly. The sulphur-yellow males are indicative of the plants presence.

The species is naturalised and sometimes invasive in parts of North America.[2][8]


  1. ^ Flora Europaea: Rhamnus cathartica
  2. ^ a b Germplasm Resources Information Network: Rhamnus cathartica
  3. ^ Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  4. ^ Flora of NW Europe: Rhamnus cathartica
  5. ^ Barnes, Burton V. and Wagner Jr., Warren H. (2004) Michigan Trees ISBN 978-0-472-08921-5
  6. ^ Bean, W. J. (1980). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles 8th ed., vol. 3. John Murray ISBN 0-7195-2427-X.
  7. ^ Plants for a Future: Rhamnus cathartica
  8. ^ Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Buckthorn - Invasive Species

External links

  • Biological and Control Information from the Invading Species Awareness Program Invading


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Rhamnus catharticus leaves and fruit.jpg


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Rosales
Familia: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Rhamnus
Species: Rhamnus cathartica


Rhamnus cathartica L.

Vernacular name

Deutsch: Purgier-Kreuzdorn
English: Common buckthorn
Français: Nerprun purgatif
Türkçe: Adi cehri
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Rhamnus cathartica on Wikimedia Commons.

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