Rhamnus cathartica (weed)

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Rhamnus cathartica (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Köhler, F. E. (Franz Eugen)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rhamnus cathartica (weed) L. - (common buckthorn)

This plant is a shrub or small tree which is native to temperate parts of Europe and neighbouring regions. It has been introduced into North America as an ornamental around 1800. R. cathartica is now widespread and invasive in many northern parts of North America and can form dense thickets, especially in woodland edges and wetlands where it replaces native plants.

The immature fruits are poisonous. The ripe fruits have been used as a purgative. The plant is adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. The fruits are eaten by various species of birds which disperse the seeds. Control involves cutting in combination with herbicide application. For a review of biocontrol possibilities see Gassmann and Tosevski, 2014.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Purgierkreuzdorn
• English: common buckthorn
European buckthorn
• Español: espino cerval
• Français: nerprun purgatif
nerprun cathartique

The plant grows up to a height of 4-8 m. The branches have up to 2 cm long thorns. Leaves are elliptical, around 5 cm long and are arranged opposite or alternately on the branches. Plants are dioecious and have either male or female flowers which are small and greenish in both cases. The fruits are black, 6-8 mm large and contain 3-4 seeds.

For details see the respective page in BugwoodWiki.