European Buckthorn
Rhombus cathartica

photo pendingDescription: European Buckthorn is a bushy small tree or a several stemmed shrub.  It is a perennial reproducing by seeds.  The branches that are older than a year normally have a sharp thorn. (4)

Growth Habit: Bushy small tree or many stemmed shrub up to 20 feet high.  Second year branches have thorns. (4)

Leaves: The leaves are toothed and might be arranged alternately or appositely on the branch. (4)

Stems: It's stems have a rough grayish brown bark and have single thorns on the end of the stem. (2)

Flower: Flowers are small with four sepals and four pedals.  Colors ranges from green to yellow.(4)

European Buckthorn roots are not very strong, so you can pull them when they are young.  Their roots eventually look like a trees.  The roots don't grow deep. (2)

Reproduction: Many different birds like to eat the fruits of the plant and that helps spread the seeds. (3)

Other Common Names: Common Buckthorn, nerprun purgative, and nerprun cathartic are some other common names for European Buckthorn. (1)

Habitat and Range: European Buckthorn can survive drought so it can do well in dry climates. (3) It's found in forests, woodland edges, prairies, fencerows, and old fields.  European Buckthorn is mostly in the mid-west. (5)

Control: Cultural control methods include, burning, excavation (like pulling), girdling, mowing, and cutting.  Herbicides that can also be used are are glyphosate, foramina, (4) picloram, and triclopyr. (2)


1)  John J. Moriarty. The Trouble with Backyard Buckthorn. 2006. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  Feb. 13, 2006,  <>.

2)  Gary Fewless. Invasive Plants of Wisconsin. 2006. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Feb. 13, 2006, <>.

3)  Peter M. Dziuk. Buckthorn and its Control. 1998. Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Feb. 20, 2006, <>.

4)  OVMA. European Bucktorn. 1997. Onterio Vegetation Management Association. Feb. 13, 2006,        <>.

5)  Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Ohio's Invasive Non-Native Plants. Nov. 9, 2005. Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Feb. 20, 2006, <>. HOME    BACK 

This page was written by Koree MacMurdie in 3/2006.