glossy buckthorn
Frangula alnus Mill.


Frangula alnus is a large shrub or small tree that can grow to heights of 30 ft. (9.1 m). Its bark is gray to brown with white lenticels.
The dark green leaves are shiny, alternate (sometime opposite) and simple with prominent venation.
The flowers are inconspicuous, pale greenish-yellow to yellow in color and occur in clusters in the leaf axis. Flowering occurs from May through September.
The fleshy fruit ripens from red to a dark purple or black color. You can see ripe fruit beginning about July through September.
Ecological Threat
Frangula alnus invades moist woodlands and disturbed areas throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Its rapid growth and prolific seed production make this plant an aggressive invader that can form dense thickets which shade and displace native understory plants, shrubs, and tree seedlings. This plant is native to Europe and was first introduced into the United States in the mid 1800s as an ornamental.


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EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit

Invasive Listing Sources

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Rhamnales
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Frangula
Subject: Frangula alnus Mill.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
alder buckthorn, glossy false buckthorn, columnar buckthorn, fen buckthorn

Related Scientific Names:
Rhamnus frangula P. Mill. (Synonym)


Plants - Shrub or Subshrub