Buckthorn, Common Buckthorn or Purging Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica

Shrub of the family Rhamnaceae (Alder Buckthorn)

Origin: Europe and Central Asia. Most of the hundreds of species of buckthorn are tropical or subtropical. The Buckthorn was introduced in North America. In Quebec, it is considered detrimental to biodiversity because it is very competitive with native vegetation.
Habitat: buckthorn enjoy the woods and hedges in limestone sites, fairly dry. It grows up to 1,200 meters.
Maximum size: 6 meters.
Shape: spread.
Bark: blackish-brown.
Foliage: Deciduous. Leaves alternate, petiolate, elliptic or ovate, 2.5 to 9 cm long and 1-4 cm wide, margin finely denticulate. Green turning yellow in autumn. Secondary veins more or less arched V.
Flowers small, unisexual, greenish-yellow, appearing in May-June Grouped in small clusters terminal, they have very small petals, sometimes absent. Male flowers have four stamens are females in late summer, a successor to their harem globular drupe, greenish, and blackish at maturity.
Fruit: drupe, 1 cm in diameter, green and shiny black when mature, sweet and bitter and unpleasant, appreciated by many birds that spread the seeds in their droppings. Resemblance to the fruit of plum and that of Phillyrea latifolia, which has opposite leaves and fruit mats.

Use: Buckthorn is planted in ornamental hedges.
As its name suggests, the fruit and bark of the tree were once used as a purgative, but their toxicity (violent purgative effects and side effects) that are no longer used for this purpose Its wood is dense and solid but little used.
This is the host plant the butterfly lemon. The presence of the male yellow is indicative of the presence of buckthorn in the area.
The fruits and twigs of the buckthorn dyers (R. saxatilis ssp. Infecftoria) were harvested once, especially in the Venaissin County and used their powers yellow dyes, because the Israelites were forced to dress in yellow.
Legends: Dedicated by the ancients to the Furies, buckthorn (or "plum" because of its black berries), is, according to tradition, the shrub whose branches were used to weave the crown of thorns of Christ. The Buckthorn, like all thorny plants, protects against witchcraft. The Germans, for example, believed the livestock spells by biting branches in manure, on the eve of May 11 On the same date, in Silesia, we nailed above the door of the stables of the branches of buckthorn in the shape of a cross.
Planting tips:
It is propagated by layers or seeds. The berries are harvested in October when they are ripe in September-October.
Other species :
privet (Rhamnus alaternus)
cascara sagrada, or sacred bark (R. purshiana).


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