Virginia Tech Dendrology

Carolina buckthorn Rhamnaceae Frangula caroliniana (Walter) A. Gray Listen to the Latin symbol: FRCA13
Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptical to oblong, 2 to 5 inches long, a few fine and widely spaced teeth, veins are parallel but near edges of leaf turn and follow the edge, shiny green above and slightly paler beneath.
Flower: Very small and inconspicuous, pale yellow-green, bell-shaped, appearing in leaf axils in late spring after the leaves.
Fruit: A small (1/3 inch) round drupe at first red but later turning black, juicy flesh, ripens in late summer.
Twig: Slender, reddish brown with gray pubescence; buds very small, naked and brown with fuzz, strong almond smell when broken; thornless, 3 bundle scars.
Bark: Smooth gray-brown but may have darker blotches, with a few slightly raised lenticels, may become shallowly fissured on larger stems.
Form: Upright shrub or small tree (to 20 feet) with a spreading, open crown.
Looks like: glossy buckthorn - common buckthorn - mountain holly
leaf flower twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Frangula caroliniana is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting Carolina buckthorn.
External Links: USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson