Buckthorn: Spell Breaker…


It is this belief that has been circulating about buckthorn among the people from time immemorial.

Having once visited the autumn forest for mushrooms, I noticed small fragile trees on the edge of the forest with bright yellow leaves trembling in the wind. They looked beautiful against the background of dense needles of young pines.

Here, I think, and I would have such a site. Pine trees have just taken root there, forming a windbreak. The trees are low, they will create a decorative middle tier.

A search engine on the Internet gave me information that this is a buckthorn. The tree is ambiguous: black glossy berries are inedible, but they are a natural dye (moreover, green), the bark is a medicine, the skeleton is thin and fragile.

By that time, I had already planted several seedlings on the site and was pleased with the result. They, of course, are still small, but, coupled with the red rowan, in the future they will noticeably enliven the landscape. It remains only to wait for them to grow 🙂

At home in eastern North America, buckthorn is a pernicious weed that fills the surrounding area.

The climate of Ukraine is quite suitable for this plant, so you can often find buckthorn in our undergrowth.

For ornamental gardening, buckthorn is interesting in several ways.

  • Firstly, it forms a graceful lacy skeleton that looks great in a winter garden. But thin twigs are so fragile … Therefore, buckthorn is recommended to be planted in calm corners of the garden or under the walls of buildings.
  • Secondly, this tree can be molded and, if desired, you can get a beautiful silhouette or make a bush out of it. In the presence of a sufficient amount of planting material, a low hedge can be grown from buckthorn.
  • Thirdly, a plant protected from the winds will thank the owners with flowering and fruiting. This process will add charm to certain corners of the garden.
  • Fourth, buckthorn is absolutely undemanding to soil and watering. At the initial stage of growth, of course, she will need top dressing and water, but only for the fastest growth up and deep into the soil. The roots of an already adult tree are three times (!) Longer than its aerial part, therefore they are able to provide the plant with everything necessary.

As for winter hardiness, the buckthorn easily tolerates severe frosts for our places, but the branches can break under a layer of icing. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence for us. It is better not to plant this tree in an open area; it is worth carefully choosing a more windless corner of the garden for it.


About 35 species of buckthorn grow in the temperate and subtropical zones of both hemispheres. The largest number of species is in both Americas. Buckthorn (Buckthorn) in English-speaking countries is called joster (Glossy buckthorn) and sea buckthorn (Sea buckthorn).

Joster laxative (Rhamnus frangula)

  • Habitat: eastern part of North America, forest-steppe part of Europe and Central Asia.
  • flowering period: May June
  • Color spectrum: leaves are green, flowers are pale yellow, fruits are black, glossy.
  • Height: shrub up to 3 m.
  • Growing conditions: sunny windless areas, drought-resistant, frost-resistant.
  • Peculiarities: the ends of young branches turn into hard spines — this is the main identification feature of this species, honey plant, the bark is used in medicine as a laxative.

Buckthorn alder (Frangula alnus)

  • Habitat: forest-steppe part of Europe, Crimea, Caucasus, northern part of Central Asia.
  • flowering period: May June
  • Color spectrum: leaves are green, bright yellow in autumn, stay on the tree until the very cold, flowers are white, fruits are black, glossy.
  • Height: tree up to 7 m (in cold regions not higher than 4-5 m).
  • Growing conditions: sunny windless areas of the garden, unpretentious to soils, drought-resistant, frost-resistant.
  • Peculiarities: the berries are poisonous, the flowers are an excellent honey plant (up to 35 kg of honey per hectare), the bark is used in medicine as a laxative, grows quite quickly under favorable conditions, has several cultivars with different leaf parameters.

Buckthorn fern (Rhamnus frangula asplenifolia)

  • Habitat: bred in culture.
  • Flowering period: June.
  • Color spectrum: light green leaves, bright yellow in autumn, pale pink flowers, black berries.
  • Height: bush or tree up to 4 m
  • Growing conditions: unpretentious to soil and watering.
  • Peculiarities: thin strongly elongated leaves with a serrated edge, reminiscent of fern leaves.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

  • Habitat: Europe, Western and Central Asia, Caucasus, China, India, Mongolia, Pakistan.
  • Flowering period: April May.
  • Color spectrum: leaves light green above, whitish below, berries are glossy, bright orange.
  • Height: multi-stemmed shrub up to 4 m, less often a tree up to 15 m.
  • Growing conditions: soil prefers loose soils rich in organic matter and phosphorus, does not tolerate waterlogging, frost-resistant.
  • Peculiarities: elongated leaves, branches are abundantly strewn with edible berries, which are a valuable medicine (juice and oil are a source of multivitamins and fatty acids), large (up to 5 cm) spiky shoots on the branches, making the shrub prickly. Plants are divided into male and female individuals, if you want to get a crop, you should purchase both types. The root system is fibrous, shallow, propagated in the same way as buckthorn.


If sea buckthorn berries are a valuable source of vitamins, then buckthorn fruits are poisonous. Be careful and inform the children about this.

This plant requires a beautiful background.

It can be a wall of a house or other building, a dense planting of coniferous plants. The plant will show itself perfectly against the background of a hedge of arborvitae, juniper. In a planting of spruce or pine, it will create a pleasant contrast both in summer and in autumn.

A uniform planting of buckthorn is good only in the hedge version.


An excellent option for buckthorn is a mixed planting with the participation of coniferous and berry bushes (mountain ash, viburnum, snowberry).

Such a landing requires a calculation for the future. With each subsequent year, the height difference will increase. The same will happen with the diameter of the plants. Therefore, the distance between seedlings is important to carefully consider at the time of planting.

So, a pine tree in an open place will increase in diameter already in the fourth year, a little later it can reach 4 m and stay in this size for 5-6 years, preventing other plants from developing. This means that the environment for her should be planted at a respectful distance of 2.5-3 m, and if necessary, then, if necessary, cut down the branches of the lower tier (or form nivaki).

Thuja and juniper are more compact, it is preferable to plant them in small areas.

Around the buckthorn, you should leave an area with a radius of at least a meter if you plan to get a tree in the future. The scope of the crown in the future will be about 2.5 — 4 m, the diameter of the trunk will be a maximum of 15 cm. Nearby you can plant dwarf junipers, snowberry, boxwood. But the development of root shoots should be controlled — for this, a free root circle with such a diameter is required.


The buckthorn seed is the seed found in the berry. Seeds sown in early autumn give greater germination than those sown in October. Spring sowing is possible only after strantification. An additional condition for good germination is moderately moist soil and a calm place.

Very high survival rate in green cuttings harvested in August. A drug like Kornevin will accelerate the development of the root system.

The bush form of buckthorn can be propagated by air layering.

A quick result will be obtained when propagated by root shoots: the plant forms root shoots. They are separated with a shovel, dug up and transplanted to a permanent place.

The best time for the transplant procedure is autumn, when the leaves began to turn yellow. When transplanting in the spring, the plant will require additional attention and watering in the summer.

I took the risk of bringing another seedling from the forest already in early June. I thought that it would not take root … The leaves, indeed, fell off and the stem dried up. But the other day, while weeding the landing, I was pleasantly surprised: two new shoots grew from the root.

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