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Native Shrub

BUCKTHORN - (Purging)

Paide bréan

Rhamnus cathartic



An uncommon shrub, which grows at lakesides often on limestone soil around the shores of upper Lough Erne and the Shannon, Lough Neagh and Lough Beg.

It is not tolerant of heavy shade under trees or very dry sites. There is some semblance to Dogwood (it is sometimes called ‘black dogwood’) but the oval leaves have an unusual pattern of almost parallel veins.

The inconspicuous white-green Flowers (not unlike spindle flowers) are borne close to the dark branches and are followed by clusters of black berries on the female bushes only.

This buckthorn is single sex, with about seven female bushes to each male.


Pick the berries as soon as they are ripe in October, extract the seed, and stratify immediately. Some bushes crop much more heavily than others. In order to ensure your own crop of berries, you need both sexes present: because of the odd ratio of females to males, you need to plant a dozen or so bushes.

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