common buckthorn




pronounced: ram-NAY-see-eye

the buckthorn family

'Ραμνος (rhamnos) was the name the Greeks gave to several prickly shrubs, including the buckthorn. Most members of the family are shrubs and trees, or rarely herbs. Although there is a worldwide distribution, they are more common in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The leaves are simple, mostly alternate, and usually stipulate. In some genera, the leaves are modified into spines. The flowers are radially symmetrical. There are 5 (sometimes 4) separate sepals and 4 (sometimes 4 or none) separate petals, which are small and inconspicuous in most genera. The 5 or 4 stamens are opposite the petals. The ovary is superior, usually with 2 or 3 ovules. The fruits are mostly berries, fleshy drupes, or nuts. Some are carried by wind, but most are dispersed by animals and birds.


Illustration from Mrs M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal (1931)