Rhamnus cathartica (Buckthorn)
Other Names: Purging Buckthorn, Common Buckthorn
Description: This species in a small prickly tree, locally common in England and Wales and is often found on woodland edges, hedgerows and scrub where is grows more as a bush. It can also be found in wet “Carr” woodland. The flowers are small and yellow-green which are then followed by purple-black berries.
Uses: The term “Purging” Buckthorn comes from its traditional use as a laxative throughout the Middle ages, where is was thought to rid the body of illness and disease. The wood has little use but the bark and fruits have been used to create yellow dye.
Conservation Value: As with all thorny trees and shrubs this, they make excellent nesting sites for birds while the berries are also a valuable food source. The flowers are pollinated by many insects but the notable conservation value is as a food source, second only to the Alder Buckthorn, for the rare and endangered Brimstone Butterfly who’s caterpillars eat the leaves.
Preferred Locations: Tolerant of many habitats but often prefers calcareous soils. Tolerant of shade of full sun but grows well in damp areas.
Size: Height of only around 8m with a canopy spread of 3m.
Time to reach full height: 20-30 years.
Lifespan: 100 years.