Genus: Rhamnus

Rhamnus cathartica
Rhamnus cathartica   L.  -  Common Buckthorn

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, NY, 1996.

By Steven D. Glenn

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 03/11/2013

Back to Rhamnaceae


Rhamnus L., Sp. Pl. 1: 193. 1753. Gen. Pl. 89. 1754. Cervispina Ludw., Inst. Regn. Vég. ed. 2. 141. 1757, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). LECTOTYPE: Rhamnus catharticus L. (Adans., Fam. 2: 514, 559, 587, 620. 1763, successively eliminates all species but R. catharticus from the Linnaean genus).

Frangula Mill., Gard. Dict. abr. ed. 4. 1754. LECTOTYPE: Frangula alnus Mill. (=Rhamnus frangula L.).

Girtanneria Neck. ex Raf., Sylva Tellur. 28. 1838. TYPE: Not designated.

Apetlorhamnus Nieuwl., Amer. Midl. Naturalist 4: 90. 1915. TYPE: Apetlorhamnus alnifolia (L'Hér.) Nieuwl. (=Rhamnus alnifolia L'Hér.).

Key to the species of Rhamnus

1. Leaves mostly opposite or subopposite...Rhamnus cathartica
1. Leaves alternate...2

2. Leaves entire or with a few marginal glands near the apex; petals present...Rhamnus frangula
2. Leaves crenate-serrate; petals none...Rhamnus alnifolia

List of Rhamnus Species

References to Rhamnus

  • Beille, L. 1902. Recherches sur le developpment floral des Disciflores. Ph.D. Thesis Bordeaux177 p.
  • Bennek, C. 1958. Die morphologische Beurteilung der Staub- und Blumenblatter der Rhamnaceen. Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 77: 423-457. (In German)
  • Bolmgren, K.; Oxelman, B. 2004. Generic limits in Rhamnus L. s.l. (Rhamnaceae) inferred from nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequence phylogenies. Taxon 53: 383-390.
  • Brizicky, George K. 1964. The genera of Rhamnaceae in the southeastern United States. J. Arnold Arbor. 45: 439-63.
  • Brown, W. T. 2001. Volunteer monitoring of nonindigenous invasive plant species in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA. Natural Areas Journal 21: 189-196.
  • Clebsch, E. E. C.; Walker, G. L.; Wofford, B. E. 1989. Noteworthy collections, Tennessee. Castanea 54: 48-50.
  • Coles, I. 1872. Glen Cove, L.I. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 3: 47.
  • Converse, C. K. 1984. Rhamnus cathartica and Rhamnus frangula.
  • Freeman, C. C. 1998. Vascular plants new to Kansas. Sida 18: 593-604.
  • Gil-Ad, N. L.; Reznicek, A. A. 1997. Evidence for hybridization of two old world Rhamnus species - R. cathartica and R. utilis (Rhamnaceae) - in the new world. Rhodora 99: 1-22.
  • Gill, D. S.; Marks, P. L. 1991. Tree and shrub seedling colonization of old fields in central New York. Ecol. Monogr. 61: 183-205.
  • Gourley, L. C. 1985. A study of the ecology and spread of buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.) with particular reference to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. M.S. Thesis Univ. Wisconsin, Madison,
  • Grubov, V. I. 1949. The monographic survey of the genus Rhamnus L. s.l. Trudy Bot. Inst. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. 1, Fl. Sist. Vyss. Rast. 8: 241-423. (In Russian)
  • Grubov, V. I. 1950. De systemate generis Rhamnus L. (Primarily in Latin). Bot. Mater. Gerb. Glavn. Bot. Sada SSSR 12: 123-33.
  • Harrington, R. A.; Brown, B. J.; Reich, P. B. 1989. Ecophysiology of exotic and native shrubs in southern Wisconsin I. Oecologia 80: 356-367.
  • Harrington, R. A.; Brown, B. J.; Reich, P. B. 1989. Ecophysiology of exotic and native shrubs in southern Wisconsin II. Oecologia 80: 368-373.
  • Heidorn, R. 1991. Vegetation management guideline: Exotic buckthorns- common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.), glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula L.), Dahurian buckthorn (Rhamnus davurica Pall.). Natural Areas Journal 11: 216-7.
  • Heppeler, F. 1928. Beitroge zur Systematik der Gattung Rhamnus mit besonderer Berucksichtigung des Emodinvorkommens. Arch. Pharm. (Berlin) 266: 152-73.
  • Herron, P.M. 2007. Invasive plants and their ecological strategies: prediction and explanation of woody plant invasion in New England. Diversity and Distributions 13: 633-644.
  • Hess, W. J.; Stearn, W. T. 1979. The identity of Cornus citrifolia Weston. Taxon 28(5/6): 553-556. (See Taxon 30:298. 1981.)
  • Hess, W. J.; Stearn, W. T. 1981. A correction involving Rhamnus citrifolia (Weston) Hess & Stearn. Taxon 30: 298.
  • Johnston, M. C. 1971. Studies in the Rhamnaceae: relationships in the tribe Rhamneae. Amer. J. Bot. 58(5): 464. (Abstract)
  • Jones, J. H. 1981. Variation of foliar features in the Rhamnaceae: tribes Rhamneae and Zizypheae. Proc. Indiana Acad. Sci. 91: 110. (Abstract)
  • Juel, H. O. 1929. Beitroge zur Morphologie und Entwickelungsgeschichte der Rhamnaceen. Kongl. Svenska Vetenskapsakad. Handl. 7(3): 1-13.
  • Kline, V. 1981. Control of honeysuckle and buckthorn in oak forests. Restor. Manag. Notes 1: 18.
  • Kozo-Poljanski, V. 1924. Ueber die Anwendung der anatomischen Methode in der Systematik der Angiospermen. Bull. Soc. Nat. Moscow Biol. II. 32: 289-310.
  • Kral, R. 1981. Some distributional reports of weedy or naturalized foreign species of vascular plants for the southern states, particularly Alabama and middle Tennessee. Castanea 46: 334-9.
  • Kurylo, J. S. 2007. Rhamnus cathartica: native and naturalized distribution and habitat preferences. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 134: 420-430.
  • Lacombe, N. R.; Youngken, H. W. 1943. Studies on the anatomy of Rhamnus lanceolata Pursh and Rhamnus cathartica L. J. Amer. Pharm. Assoc. 32: 193-202.
  • Leitner, L. A. 1985. An alien shrub in a changing landscape: the European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.) in southeastern Wisconsin. Ph.D. Dissertation Univ. Wisconsin, Milwaukee,
  • Lichvar, R. W.; Dorn, R. D. 1980. Rhamnus cathartica L. (Rhamnaceae). Madrono 27(3): 140.
  • Lindau, G. 1891. Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte einiger Samen. Ber. Deutsch. Bot. Ges. 9: 274-9.
  • Malicky, H.; Sobhian, R.; Zwolfer, H. 1970. Investigtions on the possibilities of a biological control of Rhamnus cathartica L. in Canada: host ranges, feeding sites, and phenology of insects associated with European Rhamnaceae. Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Zoologie-Entomologie 65: 77-97.
  • Maw, M. G. 1981. Rhamnus cathartica L., common or european buckthorn (Rhamnaceae). In: Biological control programs against insects and weeds in Canada. Commonwealth Agric. Bureau, United Kingdom. , 185-9 pages.
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  • Myers, J. A. 2004. Seed dispersal by white-tailed deer: implications for long-distance dispersal, invasion, and migration of plants in eastern North America. Oecologia 139: 35-44.
  • Ogle, D. W. 1989. Barns Chapel Swamp: an unusual arbor-vitae (Thuja occidentalis L.) site in Washington County, Virginia. Castanea 54: 200-202. (other spp. discussed)
  • Olechnowicz, S. W.; Rzadkowska, B. H.; Gasiorowski, K. 1992. The chemical characteristic and some biological properties of the Rhamnus cathartica L. fruits. Herba Pol. 38(3): 115-22. (In Polish: English summary)
  • Osmund, D. 1997. Cut-stump treatment of buckthorn effective despite two-hour delay between cutting and spraying. Restor. Manag. Notes 15: 197-8.
  • Pellett, F. C. 1920. American Honey Plants. Hamilton, IL. , 297 pages.
  • Pratt, J. D. 1980. New England note: A naturalized population of Rhamnus citrifolia in Connecticut. Rhodora 82(831): 523-4.
  • Prichard, E. C. 1955. Morphological studies in Rhamnaceae. J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 71: 82-106.
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  • Vikhireva, V. V. 1951. Seed development in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae). Trudy Bot. Inst. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. 7, Morphol. Anat. Pl. 2: 221-7. (In Russian)
  • Vikhireva, V. V. 1952. A morphological-anatomical study of the fruits of Rhamnaceae. Trudy Bot. Inst. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. 7, Morphol. Anat. Pl. 3: 241-92. (In Russian)
  • Ward, M.; Dunlop, J. 1887. On some points in the histology and physiology of the fruits of Rhamnus. Ann. Bot. 1: 1-26.
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