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Buckthorn(s)

Common buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica Linnaeus
Glossy buckthorn, Frangula alnus P. Mill.
Common Buckthorn Common Buckthorn
Chris Evans, University of Georgia

 

Commodities Affected:
Forestry and Natural Areas

 

Threat:

Buckthorns are tall shrubs or small trees that grow up to 20 feet tall. Glossy buckthorn has shiny leaves with smooth edges. It has solitary red to purple berry-like fruits. Common buckthorn has black fruits and dull green smooth leaves. Glossy buckthorn tends to occur more often in wetlands and common buckthorn in uplands.  Both buckthorns occur in a wide variety of habitats in northern Indiana and spread quickly through natural areas by seed. They take over the under-story and eliminate the diversity of native plants important to wildlife. Note – do not buy, sell, or plant buckthorns.   <www.invasive.org>

 

Distribution:

Common buckthorn

In 100 Years of Change in the Distribution of Common Indiana Weeds by William and Edith Overlease (2002) reported that common buckthorn was not found in Indiana in 1899 (Coulter’s Catalogue of Indiana Plants); however, in 1940 (Deam’s Flora) it was reported in Monroe, Montgomery, and Wayne counties but no herbarium specimens were taken.  In 2002 (Overlease) reported common buckthorn in DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Fayette, Howard, Huntington, Jay, La Porte, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Noble, Putnam, Ripley, and Steuben.  It has also been reported in Clinton, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, and Tippecanoe bringing it to a total of 20 counties in Indiana.

 

Glossy buckthorn

In 100 Years of Change in the Distribution of Common Indiana Weeds by William and Edith Overlease (2002) reported that glossy buckthorn was not found in Indiana in 1899 (Coulter’s Catalogue of Indiana Plants) or in 1940 (Deam’s Flora).  In 2002 (Overlease) reported glossy buckthorn in Elkhart, Kosciusko, Lake, La Porte, Madison, Marion, Marshall, and Noble. It has also been reported in Jasper, Jay, and Grant counties in Indiana.