Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)

Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) is a tall deciduous shrub, sometimes referred to as a small tree, that is native to Europe, North Africa

  • Alder Buckthorn - Rhamnus frangula - sapling
  • Alder Buckthorn - Rhamnus frangula - leaves
  • Alder Buckthorn - Rhamnus frangula - berries

Useful info about Alder Buckthorn trees

Latin NameRhamnus frangula
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 7 metres (24 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 1 - 5 metres (3 - 20 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableGardens
FruitRed / purple fruit in summer

Similar Species


It is an invasive species in North America, invading forests in the Northeastern and wetlands and moist forest in the Midwestern United States, and is expected to continue to expand its North American range with time.

Alder Buckthorn grows up to 6 m (20 ft) tall and 4.5 m (15 ft) wide. Leaves are ovate, 4-5'' long by 3-4'' wide, arranged oppositely or whorled on stem. The flowers are small, greenish-white, hermaphroditic, and insect pollinated, usually flowering in mid-June.

The fruit is small black berries that drop in late summer to early autumn. Individual plants can produce as many as 400-1800 fruits with three seeds each. Seeds are dispersed by birds and mice, but many seeds simply fall to the ground underneath the parent, creating a dense local population.

Alder Buckthorn grows well in sunlight and moderate shade, but less vigorously in dense shade. It is highly adaptable and pollution tolerant. In the Northeastern United States, where it is an invasive species, it invades forests and grows in the understory in spots with a lot of light.


Alder buckthorn charcoal was used in the production of gunpowder. It is often used to make walking stick and umbrellas. The bark was once used as a laxative.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

Alder Buckthorn is believed to offer protection from witchcraft and poisons.

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