Common and Glossy Buckthorn can be tall shrubs or small trees which may reach 6 to 25 feet and have trunks 10 inches in diameter. Buckthorns usually have a few to several stems or trunks and spreading, loosely-branched crowns.
Examples of Glossy Buckthorn
Examples of common buckthorn which are seen routinely in Wisconsin
The bark on both glossy and common buckthorn is grey to brown with silver or white lenticels or projections. The inner bark is orange and seen when the plant is cut.
The leaves on common buckthorn are dark green egg-shaped, pointed tips, and tiny teeth along the edges. There are 3 to 5 pairs of curved veins, and they are 1.5 to 3 Inches long. The leaves are arranged on the branches usually in a subopposite pattern.
Glossy buckthorn leaves are oval with a shiny upper surface, and toothless edges. There are 8-9 pair of veins and the leaves are larger than the common buckthorn leaves. The leaves are arranged on the branches in an alternate pattern.
The seedlings of buckthorn often appear under the parent plants, but are also spread by seeds that are eaten by birds. Some mammals like mice and squirrels also spread the plants. The seeds can be transported long distances by birds.
An important fact to remember is that Buckthorn berries have a chemical called modin, which is a strong laxative effecting birds and animals. This allows for the distribution of seeds in their excrement.
The berries or fruits of common buckthorn start out green in color then change to purple when ripe. The size of the berries can vary from 1/4” to 5/8" in diameter but are usually about 3/8".
The berries or fruits of glossy buckthorn start out green in color, change to red, and finally turn purple when ripe.
The common and glossy buckthorn sometimes have sharp thorns on branches. The thorns on some common buckthorn are also large. If pets are left to run wild in areas with large infestations of buckthorn, they can be injured by contacting the thorns.
The Berries on the Common & Glossy Buckthorn contains several seeds