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Buckthorn (Common Buckthorn or Purging Buckthorn), is a species native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia, from the central British Isles south to Morocco, and east to Kyrgyzstan. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 6 – 8m tall, with grey-brown bark and spiny branches. The leaves are elliptic to oval, 2.5–9 cm long and 1.2–3.5 cm broad; they are green, turning yellow in autumn, and are arranged somewhat variably in opposite to subopposite pairs or alternately. The flowers are yellowish-green, with four petals; they are dioecious and insect pollinated. The fruit is a globose black drupe 6–10 mm diameter containing two to four seeds; it is mildly poisonous for people, but readily eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
The species was originally named by Linnaeus as Rhamnus catharticus, but this spelling is corrected to cathartica as the genus name Rhamnus is of feminine gender.
Cultivation and uses
The bark and fruit were used as a purgative in the past, though their potentially dangerous violent action and side effects means they are now rarely used. The wood is hard and dense, but little-used.
Rhamnus Cathartica - Buckthorn