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Rhamnus frangula
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

alder buckthorn

A large, bushy deciduous shrub to 5m tall, with glossy rounded to ovate dark green leaves which turn yellow or red in autumn, and clusters of small greenish flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by bright red berries which ripen to black

Other common names
black alder
berry-bearing alder
see morebutcher's prickwood
dogwood
Synonyms
Rhamnus frangula
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Size
Ultimate height
4–8 metres
Time to ultimate height
5–10 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 Yellow Green Green
Summer Yellow Green Green
Autumn Red Red Black
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
Potentially harmful
Harmful if eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Frangula can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs or trees, with simple leaves that often colour well in autumn, and tiny yellowish flowers followed by red or black fruit

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, Asia & Africa

How to grow

Cultivation

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

Propagation

Propagate by seed or semi-ripe cuttings in early summer

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

Minimal pruning required, see pruning group 1; trim hedges in early spring

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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