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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Rhamnus frangula L.)

Glossy buckthorn



FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A shrub or small tree growing to 7 m. in height. Leaves are all or mostly alternate, oblong to obovate-oblong, 5-8 cm. long, acute to short-acuminate. Leaf margins are entire and may be wavy (see photograph), but are easily distinguished from the fine-toothed leaf margins of common buckthorn (R. cathartica). Leaves are also shiny compared to the leaves of common buckthorn. Branches do not end as thorns. Flowers are perfect with parts in 5s. Fruits are red turning to black, with 2-3 stones.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Introduced from Eurasia and planted as an ornamental, glossy buckthorn is an aggressive invader and noxious weed of wooded swamps, bogs, and inland fresh meadows, especially calcareous fens. It is not as widespread in Minnesota and Wisconsin as common buckthorn and prefers wetter habitats. Glossy buckthorn often occurs in association with disturbance (power lines, ditches), but also has infested scientific and natural area quality wetlands, such as Cedarburg Bog in southeastern Wisconsin and calcareous fens in the lower Minnesota River valley, due to seed dispersal by birds. A synonym is Frangula alnus P. Mill.

SOURCE: Voss (1985); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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