Rhamnus cathartica, the buckthorn, common buckthorn, or purging buckthorn, is a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Rhamnaceae. It is native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.
Rhamnus cathartica, commonly called common or European buckthorn, is a weedy, thicket-forming, deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to 16-25' tall. It is noted for having small spines at the branchlet ends. This buckthorn is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. Plants were introduced to North America as ornamentals in the early 1800s, but have over time escaped landscapes and naturalized in open woods, wood margins, prairies, fields, pastures and roadsides in various locations primarily extending from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan south to Missouri and Virginia. Elliptic to oval, mostly subopposite, hairless, dark green leaves (to 3" long) have 3-5 pairs of veins and toothed margins. Leaves retain green color long into fall, but eventually turn yellow. Small yellow-green flowers bloom in spring (April-June).