Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
common buckthorn foliage with dark purple berries
Common Buckthorn © Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Common Buckthorn

About Common Buckthorn

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is a deciduous plant with oval-shaped leaves and small dark fruit. It grows as a shrub or a small tree up to 20 feet tall. It’s originally from Europe and Asia, and it is sometimes used for landscaping and hedges.

The Problem

It produces high numbers of fruits, which are dispersed by birds. It invades fields and field edges, forming dense stands that exclude other plants.

The Solution

For seedlings and small saplings, hand pulling or repeated cutting or mowing can work well. For larger plants, cutting followed by treating of the freshly-cut stump with a systemic herbicide is generally effective. Another option is cutting followed by the application of a foliar spray of a systemic herbicide to the new growth that sprouts from the stump. Always read and follow the directions on the label when using herbicide. 

Pictures of Common Buckthorn

Common Buckthorn seedlings
Common Buckthorn mature shrub
Common Buckthorn fruit and leaves
Common Buckthorn leaves and unripe fruit