Rhamnus cathartica - L.
Buckthorn
Other English Common Names: Common Buckthorn
Other Common Names: common buckthorn
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Rhamnus cathartica L. (TSN 28573)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.145273
Element Code: PDRHA0C050
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Buckthorn Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Rhamnales Rhamnaceae Rhamnus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Rhamnus cathartica
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (14Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Maine (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DEexotic, IAexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KYexotic, MA, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MTexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SDexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Medium
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Rhamnus cathartica can form even-aged, dense thickets shading out natives and often obliterating them. It can form monotypic stands in calcareous situations. It suppresses fire in fire-adapted communities. It is widespread across the continental U.S. and found in early successional forest, edge, floodplain forest, pasture, roadside, wet meadow, riparian forests, openings, prairie thickets, and open oak woodland. For complete control, it may be necessary to burn every year or every other year for 5-6 years or more.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 04Mar2004
Evaluator: Killeffer, T.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Europe and north and west Asia. Low elevations of Morocco and Algeria. (Mehrhoff 2003).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Kartesz 1999.

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invader to mainly open oak woods, deadfall openings but also in prairies and open fields (Wieseler 1999).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Moderate significance
Comments: Inhibits growth under it prohibiting fire in fire-adapted communities (Wieseler 1999).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High significance
Comments: Can form even-aged, dense thickets shading out natives and often obliterating them (Wieseler 1999).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Can form even-aged, dense thickets shading out natives and often obliterating them (Wieseler 1999). Can form monotypic stands in calcareous situations (Mehrhoff 2003).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: In all the information I reviewed, I found no mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species (Killeffer 2004). It is a host to crown rust of oats affecting yield and quality (Wieseler 1999) and a host for soybean aphid (PMC, no date).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Although seedlings will invade apparently stable habitats, it is more successful in ample light and exposed soil. Invasion is greatest along woodland edges and openings created by windfalls (MNAP, no date).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Kartesz 1999.

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Answer based on its characteristics and the fact it can tolerate many soil types and sunny habitats (Wieseler 1999).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Ca. 44 from TNC ecoregions map (2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Early successional forest, edge, floodplain forest, pasture, roadside, wet meadow, riparian forests (Mehroff 2003). Openings, prairie thickets, open oak woodland (Butterfield 1996).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Unknown

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Already occupies a good portion of the region (Kartesz 1999).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Retains fruit far into the winter maintaining visibility to birds that feed on the fruit. Seeds will float (Converse 1984). Mice will also eat fruit (Wieseler 1999). May still be sold commercially. Wood ducks are also a distributor of the seeds (Butterfield 1996).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Unknown

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Although seedlings will invade apparently stable habitats, it is more successful in ample light and exposed soil. Invasion is greatest along woodland edges and openings created by windfalls (MNAP, no date).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:High/Low significance
Comments: Kartesz (1999) has it as escaped in Canada.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Long growing season, rapid growth rate and prolific seed producer (Butterfield 1996).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High significance
Comments: Fire is very effective for control. Unfortunately, there may be very little litter under the buckthorn to carry a fire due to the buckthorn's suppression or due to the habitat. For complete control, it may be necessary to burn every year or every other year for 5-6 years or more (Wieseler 1999).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Moderate significance
Comments: For complete control, it may be necessary to burn every year or every other year for 5-6 years or more (Wieseler 1999).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Suspect management impacts from burning in areas not fire-adapted but not in fire-adapted communities. Alternatives to fire is herbicide application and it would target just the buckthorn (Wieseler 1999).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Given this species grows in a variety of habitats such as floodplains and oak forests, it is assume that some are difficult to reach.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Butterfield, C., J. Stubbendieck, and J. Stumpf. 1996. Species abstracts of highly disruptive exotic plants. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, ND. Home Page: http://www.greatplains.org/npresource/othrdata/exoticab/exoticab.htm.

  • Converse, C. 1984. TNC Element Stewardship Abstract for Rhamnus cathartica, Rhamnus frangula (syn. Frangula alnus). http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/documnts/franaln.html (accessed 2004)

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

  • Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP). Undated. Maine Invasive Plant Fact Sheets.

  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander, Jr., S.A. Leicht and E. Mosher. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Online. Available: http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane/.

  • Moss, E.H. 1994. Flora of Alberta. Second Edition revised by J.G. Packer. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

  • Pest Management Center (PMC) - Northcentral. No date. PMC sponsored by USDA, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. http://www.ncpmc.org/ (accessed 2004).

  • Spencer, N. R. 2005, May 20 last update. Rubus phoenicolasius factsheet. Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group. http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/ruph1.htm (Accessed 2005).

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