Plant ID – Common buckthorn

(Question)

Can you tell me what this tree is? I have a couple of close ups of the branches and leaves and don’t see anything similar in our neighborhood.

Thanks

(Answer)

Thanks for forwarding the closer-up photo of the plant (tree) in question–being able to see the leaf and leaf arrangement on the branches helps with identification, most likely Common buckthorn.

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is a small deciduous tree or shrub native to parts of Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America in the early 19th century as an ornamental shrub/tree. Unfortunately, it has become naturalized and is now considered an invasive species in Ontario. [See: https://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/plants-terrestrial/common-buckthorn/]. The berry-like fruit, while toxic to humans and animals, is eaten by birds which then disperse the seeds in their droppings; clearly why it is where it is now. Being shade tolerant, common buckthorn is most often found in woodland areas; because it leafs out earlier than many native species of trees and shrubs, it has a competitive advantage over other plants.

Fortunately, the size of your plant will allow it to be removed easily–loosen the soil around it and simply pull it out; make sure that all the roots are removed. Even if the plant were something desirable, letting it grow where it is now next to the house foundation would not be recommended.

To learn more about Rhamnus cathartica, see:

https://ontariotrees.com/main/species.php?id=2022