Carolina buckthorn, or Rhamnus caroliniana, is another underused gem that is typically found in connoisseur collections only and never at the big garden centers. That's not too surprising since this refined North American native lacks the flashiness that is so necessary in the big-box nursery trade. And yet this is one of the most attractive ornamental small trees available.

Carolina buckthorn forms an open crown of delicate branch work and eventually reaches 15 feet in height, though it has been known to reach 40 feet in deep forests. The attractive leaves are a shiny dark green with a pale underside. They change to a stunning orangey-yellow and red in autumn. The greenish-white  early summer flowers are rather unobtrusive but are followed by small, showy red fruits which ripen to black in the fall. The berries are then sweet and edible and irresistible to birds, making this an excellent Wildlife-friendly choice. Finally, in winter, the thin, smooth, grey bark with dark markings makes an attractive silhouette.

Carolina buckthorn is adaptable to many growing conditions, alkaline or acid, bottom lands or hillsides. It grows throughout most of the United States and the warmer parts of Canada. It is fully hardy throughout the UK and adaptable to temperate Australia and New Zealand.


Carolina buckthorn

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