Plant Guide > Trees > Buckthorns



Genus RHAMNUS, Linn.

Ornamental trees and shrubs, with bitter juice. Leaves simple, alternate, entire or toothed. Flowers inconspicuous, greenish, in axillary clusters. Fruit berry-like, black or red.

The buckthorns are small, ornamental tree and shrubs. There are sixty species of them, widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, with a few tropical species, and representatives in South Africa and Brazil.

Of our three natives, the Indian cherry is rarely seen in cultivation. When people plant buckthorns they order them of nurserymen who offer the vigorous English Rhamnus cathartica, a clean-leaved, handsome, thorny shrub, beset in autumn with black berries clustered close to the twigs. Its fruit yields a valuable medicinal principle, oftenest sold in the form of a syrup.

The bark furnishes a yellow dye. Another European buckthorn, R. frangula, appears in our shrubbery borders, its shining leaves brightened by large red berries. The wood of this species makes valuable charcoal for gunpowder.

Morocco leather is dyed yellow with the berry of a French buckthorn. Painters get their "China green" from two Chinese species. Jujube paste is made from the fruit of a member of this family. The "Lotus-eaters" of ancient literature are now believed to have tasted-to their undoing-the fruit of one of the buckthorns.

Black Ironwood Tree
Bluewood or Logwood Tree
California Lilac or Blue Myrtle Tree
Cascara Buckthorn Tree
Evergreen Buckthorn Tree
Indian Cherry or Yellow Buckthorn Tree
Red Ironwood Tree
Spiny Lilac Tree