European Buckthorn

Rhamnus cathartica

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Height to 25 ft.; spread to 20 ft. Small, 4-petaled, yellow to brown flowers in leaf axils; flowers May to July. Leaves are oblong, margins are wavy with small teeth. Fruits are black, round, and persistent. Bark has obvious, white lenticels.


Found in woodlands, prairies, and fields; well-drained soils.

Location in Nebraska

Identified in a few counties in North-central Nebraska.

Pathway of Introduction and Spread

Introduced into the U.S. – Originally from Europe. Has been used extensively in the landscape and as fences, however has escaped into natural areas. Spreads by rhizomes and wildlife.


Alternate host for oat rust; Forms thickets (sometimes monocultures) with thorns which can be hazardous; Out-competes native vegetation. Also an overwinter site for soybean aphid eggs, an invasive insect.

Photo Credits: 

“Weeds of the Great Plains” – Nebraska Department of Agriculture