common buckthorn Rhamnaceae Rhamnus cathartica L. Listen to the Latin symbol: RHCA3 Other Fact Sheets
Leaf: Opposite or sub-opposite (partially alternate), simple, elliptical to nearly oval, 2 to 3 inches long, finely serrated, dark shiny green above, much lighter below.
Flower: Species is dioecious; small, yellow-green, 4 petals, in small clusters, appearing in spring.
Fruit: Round, 1/4 inch in diameter, drupe, shiny black when ripe in late summer.
Twig: Slender stiff, reddish brown, later with exfoliating gray layer, many end in a sharp thorn; buds, scaly, ovate, pointed, 1/4 inch, reddish brown to dark brown, appressed.
Bark: Smooth, shiny gray to reddish brown with numerous lenticels, later becoming dark gray and scaly; large specimens become rectangular blocky; inner bark is yellow.
Form: A large, suckering shrub or small low branching tree up to 25 feet tall.

Looks like: Carolina buckthorn - glossy buckthorn - deciduous holly
leaf fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information:
Rhamnus cathartica is planted in the USDA hardiness zones shown above and may seed into the landscape. See states reporting common buckthorn.
External Links:
USDA Plants Database
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Photos and text by: John Seiler,
Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera,
and John Peterson
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