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  Common buckthorn  

Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Exotic Species:
Common buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica


Common buckthorn is a shrub or small tree native to Eurasia. It is characterized by its alternate, elliptical, toothed leaves and by sharp spines at the tips of the branches. This plant's leaves develop before those of the native shrubs, giving it a competitive edge. The black fruits are dispersed by birds into open lands and woodlands. In open areas buckthorn forms dense thickets that exclude native vegetation. In woodlands in the northern third of the state, common buckthorn is the dominant understory species.

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