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Uses

Toxic parts

The fruit is purgative but not seriously poisonous[1]. Other parts of the plant may also be poisonous[2][3][4][1].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Rhamnus cathartica.

Material uses

A green dye is obtained from the immature fruit[5][6][7][8][9]. Mixed with gum arabic and limewater, it makes a green pigment used in watercolour painting[10]. Yellow, orange and brownish dyes can also be obtained[11]. The colours are rich but fugitive[12].

A yellow dye is obtained from the bark[13][11][8]. It has been used to colour paper and maps[10]. Often grown as an informal hedge, it is also amenable to trimming[14][1][15].

Wood - hard, handsome with a marble-like grain. Used for small turnery[5][13][16].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Both the bark and the fruit of common buckthorn have been used for their purgative effect upon the body, however they can be rather violent in their action and so are rarely used in human medicines[17]. The berries, harvested when fully ripe, are cathartic, depurative, diuretic, laxative and violently purgative[18][12][19][3][5][13][20][10]. About 8 - 15 of the mature fruits, chewed before breakfast, are a strong and effective laxative for adults, they should not be used by children[19]. An infusion of the not quite mature fruits is gentler in its action[19]. Use with caution, in large doses the fruit can cause vomiting and violent diarrhoea[19][14].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Hedge

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed will require 1 - 2 months stratification at 5°c and should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame[15]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[21]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, autumn in a frame.

Layering in early spring[12].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Rhamnus cathartica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Succeeds in any reasonably good soil[22]. Prefers a dry or moist calcareous soil[18][12][19] in sun or light dappled shade[15].

This species is hardy to at least -15°c[10]. Plants regenerate well after cutting or burning but young plants are rather prone to frost damage when grown in an exposed position[1]. Plants are resistant to cattle grazing but young plants can be damaged by rabbits[1]. Plants have a very shallow root system[1]. This species often bears the aecidospore stage of 'crown rust' of oats so it should not be grown near cereals[18][1]. The species in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[15]. A good bee plant[12][23] and a main food plant for the brimstone butterfly[1].

Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Rhamnus cathartica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Rhamnus cathartica.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Rhamnus cathartica
Genus
Rhamnus
Family
Rhamnaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
3
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    6 x 3 meters
    Fertility
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.41.51.61.71.8 Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs. Jarrold (1979-00-00)
    2. ? Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus ISBN 0-7011-2526-8 (1980-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.2 Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    4. ? Cooper. M. and Johnson. A. Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man. HMSO ISBN 0112425291 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.35.4 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    7. ? 7.07.1 Haywood. V. H. Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-217674-9 ()
    8. ? 8.08.18.2 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    9. ? 9.09.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.210.310.410.5 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.212.312.412.512.6 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.213.313.4 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.115.215.315.415.5 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.118.218.3 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.119.219.319.419.5 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    21. ? Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    23. ? International Bee Research Association. Garden Plants Valuable to Bees. International Bee Research Association. (1981-00-00)
    24. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

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