Common Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica L.

Scientific Name: Rhamus Cathartica L.
Common Name(s):Common Buckthorn

INVASIVE to MAINE                              Final edit and information check needed.      

Research Summary
: Kyle O.
The plant that I did research on is the common buckthorn, scientific name Rhamus carthitica L. When I studied this plant I had tons of questions to ask. I am a great observer so I knew this would be a great plant to observe! I found the research was not difficult because, I had a bunch of resources to use and help from teachers and my parents.There were a variety of resources to use.

I wanted to know if common buckthorn grew in Maine. In my research, I found out that it did and that it was introduced to Maine as a packing material or as a windbreak. I also observed during my research that Buckthorn is a small deciduous tree or shrub that can grow to 6 meters in height and also quite sun tolerant. It grows in woodlands and savannas, too. I think the most important fact was that this species is invasive to many states.

Identifying Characteristics

Is a small tree or shrub that can grow to about 25 ft.
  • The leaf is broadly oval, rounded or tipped at the end.
  • The color of the leaf is green.
  • The apperence of the leaf is rough (non-smooth),and shiny.
  • The texture represents a stem pattern in the leaf.
  • It produces a yellow/green, 4 petal flower.
  • Small black fruits that look like berries.
  • 3 to 4 seeds form in the berries in Fall.
  • Diameter is 10 inches.
  • The bark is a grey/brown color.
  • It is textured when It is mature.


   Scientific Classification
 What That Classification Means
 Kingdom  Plantae   The taxonomic kingdom comprising all living or extinct plants.
 Phylum  Magnoliophyta  The magnoliophyta is the largest plant group on earth.  It contains
 250,000 described species.
 Class  Magnoliopsida  Magnoliopsida is a specific plant life or a class of flowering plants.
 Order  Rhamnales  Rhamnales ia an order of dicotyledonous plants or a plant with embryonic
 Family  Rhamnaceae  Rhamnaceae, the buckthorn family, is a large family of flowering plants,
 mostly trees, shrubs and some vines.
 Genus  Rhamus  Rhamus is the genus for buckthorn and other types of plants.
 Species  Cartharitica  Catharitica is a tropical twinging vine with deeply veined whorled leaves.

Similar species include:

Location and Movement
Origin/ Native Range
 Buckthorn is native to Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, south to Missouri, and east to New England.
 Buckthorn was introduced as a ornamental shrub and a wind break.
Spread of Species  It spreads by the ocean to most southern areas.
Where is it now invasive?  Buckthorn is in, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS,ME,NJ,NY, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WY.

Is this species in Maine?
 Yes, this species is in Maine.
Where has it been identified?
 Common buckthorn invasion is greatest in thinned or grazed woods, along woodland edges, and in openings created by windfalls.
How was this species introduced?
 It was introduced to Maine as a packing material or as a windbreak.
Natural Environment

Buckthorn's natural environment is in the dry lands, plains, small forest and prairies.It is also found around highways.

Climate and Temperature Range
 Buckthorn grows in warm climate areas. There were no results for what the tempature range was.
Ecological Interactions  A study is being done to see how Buckthorn is having an ecological impact on soybean aphid, a pest to soybeans and the multi-colored Asian ladybeetle, a pest to fruit production.
It absorbs other plants nutrition.
Consumed By
Buckthorn is consumed by sparrows.
Ecological  It can ruin yards and kill all the plants.
Human  Buckthorn can be used as a medicine and tanning oil.
Economic  The economic impact of Buckthorn is that more and more money is spent trying to find chemicals and ways to control the spread of the plant. More specificly saying, it has no "natural controls".
 Biological  Buckthorn can be controlled by a plant disease called oat crown steam rust.
 Mechanical  There are different types of tools to cut buckthorn. One of them is called the "Weed Wrench". It
 comes in four different sizes and will remove buckthorn stems up to 2.5 inches in diameter.
 Cultural  Cultural control methods include, burning, excavation (like pulling), girdling, mowing. If the
 buckthorn plant is less than 3/8 inch in diameter, remove by hand. Small seedlings can be pulled
 and will not re-sprout. If greater than 3/8 inch, use a hand tool that pulls the shrub out, such as a
 "Weed Wrench" or "Root Talon".
 Chemical  The best time to cut and chemically treat buckthorn stumps is in the late summer. They use herbicides products like Ortho Brush-B-Gon, Garlon 3A, or any of the Glyphosate products, treat only the cut surface.
  • It is invasive to half the country.
  • It can grow to 25ft.
  • A forrest full of Common Buckthorn would be a very boring place.