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Common Buckthorn

Scientific Name

Rhamnus cathartica L. (ITIS)

Common Name

Common buckthorn, European buckthorn, Hart's thorn, European waythorn

Native To

Europe and Western Asia (Knight et al. 2007)

Date of U.S. Introduction

Early 1800s, or possibly earlier (Knight et al. 2007)

Means of Introduction

Introduced as an ornamental (Knight et al. 2007)


Forms dense stands that dominate ecosystems and displace native species (Mascaro et al. 2007)

Current U.S. Distribution

Northeastern, Midwestern, and Western U.S.

Common buckthorn -

European buckthorn foliage


Photo by Paul Wray; Iowa State University

Find more images


  • Pennsylvania Bans Sale of Three Invasive Plants: Ravenna Grass, Glossy Buckthorn, Common Buckthorn

    • Feb 4, 2022
    • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

    • The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has added ravenna grass, glossy buckthorn and common buckthorn to a list of noxious weeds — plants that cannot be legally sold or cultivated in the state. The non-native plants spread aggressively into wooded areas and fields, crowding out beneficial plants and disrupting native ecosystems. The ban on sale and cultivation will take effect April 5, 2022 with enforcement phased in over the next year.

  • Distinguishing Invasive Buckthorn from Native Alderleaf Buckthorn

    • Corteva Agriscience. TechLine Invasive Plant News.

    • Distinguishing between non-native and native buckthorn is important so that management efforts can be targeted appropriately. This article desribes and separates the two invasive buckthorns from native alderleaf buckthorn.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
State and Local Government