Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is almost done building a new website! Please take a sneak peek or read about our redesign process.

Extension > Garden > Diagnose a problem > Is this plant a weed? > Woody > Common Buckthorn

Print Icon Email Icon Share Icon

Common Buckthorn

Rhamnus cathartica L.

  • Image: broadleaf Plantain
  • Image: broadleaf Plantain
  • Image: broadleaf Plantain

Found in:

  • Old landscapes, upland woods and many other habits


  • Multi-stemmed shrub to small tree, growing 10-20’ tall with an upright oval form
  • Leaves are egg-shaped with finely toothed edges, very dark, and dull green
  • Plants leaf out in early spring and retain their leaves well into winter; leaves do not change color before being shed
  • Twigs have a sharp thorn at each tip
  • Bark is rough, grey-brown in color
  • Small glossy black, berry-like fruits borne in clusters; fruits remain on plant well into winter; each fruit has 3-4 seeds


  • Minnesota Restricted Noxious Weed that is extremely aggressive on lowland and upland sites; crowds or shades out native shrubs and wildflowers
  • Illegal to import, sell, or transport in Minnesota

Plants that look similar:

More information and control options for Common Buckthorn...

Did this tool help you identify the weed? Tell us.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy