Invasive Plants of Wisconsin

Rhamnus cathartica L.
European buckthorn
Family: Rhamnaceae
tree Fall tree fall fall flower
tree leaves remain after others have fallen leaves remain after others have fallen leaves remain after others have fallen branch leaves twigs bark flower fruit

European Buckthorn can be identified by the small thorns born at the tips of most branches. Leaves are toothed and may be arranged both alternately and oppositely on the same branch. The fruits, similar in structure to a cherry (but containing more than one seed), are very dark colored and numerous. Leaves remain green and firmly attached after most other species have lost their leaves (the related Rhamnus frangula is similar in this regard).

European Buckthorn is a troublesome invasive exotic species. The fruits are eagerly eaten by birds and the seeds are spread widely. When the trees reach maturity they produce abundant fruit and within a few years there are commonly thousands of seedlings around the base of each mature tree. Cut stumps sprout vigorously and usually require treatment with an herbicide, if they are too large to pull out.

See other web sites for methods of control, including Wisconsin DNR




known Wisconsin distribution


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