Sun exposure:
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Shade type:


Acidic / Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

Purging buckthorn is a small tree, often used as a shrub or hedging plant, which is native to England and Wales and much of Europe. It has grey-brown bark and spiny branches, and glossy, dark green, toothed leaves, which turn yellow before falling in autumn. Purging buckthorn is dioceous, meaning its yellow-green, male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. After pollination the female flowers develop into slightly poisonous black berries. Indeed, purging buckthorn is so named due to its traditional use as a laxative, thanks to the purgative effects of eating the berries. It can grow to an eventual height of 10m.

It's very closely related to alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), which is thornless.

In the United States of America, purging buckthorn is highly invasive. However, in Britain, being native, it has no such problems. What's more, purging buckthorn is a fantastic wildlife plant – its leave are used as a caterpillar food plant by the brimstone butterfly, its flowers are visited by pollinators and its berries are eaten by birds. It makes a fantastic addition to a wildlife hedge.

Where to buy purging buckthorn

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Rhamnus and wildlife

Rhamnus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers, provides shelter and habitat, has seeds for birds and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Rhamnus poisonous?

Rhamnus causes an upset stomach. Its foliage and fruit are toxic.

Toxic to:
Is known to attract Cats
Is known to attract Dogs
Is known to attract Horses
Is known to attract Livestock
Is known to attract People
No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds