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  Smooth buckthorn  

Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Exotic Species:
Smooth buckthorn Rhamnus frangula


Smooth buckthorn is a shrub native to Eurasia. It is recognized by its alternate, simple leaves, green flowers and red fruits, which turn black with age. The bark is smooth and covered with prominent lenticels, or pores, and the inner wood has a distinctive yellow color. Since being planted as an ornamental, this shrub has invaded fens, bogs and other wetlands, especially in northeastern Illinois. It has a vigorous root system, and sprouts vigorously following fires or other injuries. It produces fruit at a very early age, and mature plants produce thousands of seeds. Its control is very difficult because it is often mingled with desirable native vegetation.

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