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Rhamnus cathartica
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

purging buckthorn

A dense, thicket-forming, deciduous shrub or small tree to 6m, with spiny shoots bearing glossy dark green leaves which turn yellow in autumn, and small clusters of tiny yellowish-green flowers in late spring or early summer followed by red berries in autumn which ripen to black

Other common names
common buckthorn
common hart's horn
see moreEuropean buckthorn
French berry
rainberry thorn
Rhineberry thorn
waythorn
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Size
Ultimate height
4–8 metres
Time to ultimate height
10–20 years
Ultimate spread
2.5–4 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green Yellow Green
Summer Green Yellow Green
Autumn Yellow Black Red
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

West–facing or East–facing or South–facing or North–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Rhamnaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy, Suckering
Potentially harmful
Harmful if eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Rhamnus can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees, often thorny, with simple leaves that may colour well in autumn, and tiny yellowish flowers followed by fruit that is typically black

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe to C Asia

How to grow

Cultivation

Flowers are attractive to bees. Suitable for hedging, wild or woodland gardens. Grow in moist but well drained soil in sun or part shade

Propagation

Propagate by seed in a coldframe as soon as ripe, or propagate by softwood cuttings (greenwood) in early summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Coastal
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Hedging and screens
Pruning

Pruning group 1; trim hedges in early spring

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

May be susceptible to honey fungus (rarely)

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