Common Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn)
Branching: Opposite / Sub-opposite
Other names: European Buckthorn
This European import has become naturalized in many areas, especially
around cities or where land has been cleared for agriculture. In
southern Ontario it is now one of the most dominant shrubs. It is
usually opposite, but sometimes can be sub-opposite (appears alternate)
on vigorous shoots. It is often thorny, but it's not always
obvious. Often a twig will end with a small thorn at the very
end. Young bark has the horizontal lenticels typical of several
other groups and as it ages, it peels in a sort of Black Cherry-like
fashion. Its black berries are often still present during the
winter. The related Glossy Buckthorn looks more similar in the summer than in the winter since it has naked buds and different bark.
Buckthorn twig, showing the typical stunted thorn at the end
Another view of the end bud
The black fruits.
Winter twig of Buckthorn
Young bark, showing the horizontal lenticels and the bark beginning to peel.
Buckthorn bark as it is peeling more.
The trunk of a very mature Buckthorn.
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© 2008 Josh Sayers
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