Plant of the Day: the Glossy Buckthorn          

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Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)                                  

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As is evident in the links above, this European shrub is an unwanted invasive in North America and a welcomed host of the Brimstone butterfly and source of dyes in its native land.

Glossy Buckthorn usually has berries at different stages of development..red and black. See lower twig berried all black in Choke Cherry

Glossy Buckthorn usually has berries at different stages of development..red and black. See lower twig berried all black in Choke Cherry

Glossy Buckthorn is exploiting various human disturbed habitats in the province: cut-over woodland, reservoir shores, hydrologically modified swamps. However, there is evidence, not well documented but credible, that the plant given its large source populations and shade tolerance and ability to be dispersed by birds, is invading intact ecosystems. Are there any reports of the plant in old-growth woodlands or in mature woodland not near disturbed edges?

glossy leaves, small

leaves: glossy, smooth upper and lower surfaces, margin entire, veins 45 degrees, equally-spaced and straight

Most accounts of invasive plants are misnomers. Unless the plant is actually capable of colonizing and perpetuating in an unmodified, intact natural habitat, the plant is an exotic plant that is doing what it should, colonizing disturbed landscapes,  reducing erosion and creating shade and opportunity for wildlife.

Of all our potentially invasive plants, the Glossy Buckthorn is the premier suspect (Hill and Blaney, 2010) and more research must be done on this prolific shrub which is changing secondary successional patterns and becoming a part of the flora.

 

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