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Buckthorn - Purging (Rhamnus cathartica)

Rhamnaceae family

Code: Rhamnus cath
  • £0.85 (ex. VAT)
Item in Stock   |   Delivery within a few days

Key Features

Purging buckthorn (Rhanmus cathartica) is

- Suitable as a hedge plant, woodland shrub or hedgerow tree

- Native

- Deciduous

- Flowering

- Thorny

- Safe to plant near livestock (non-toxic) but not advised for horse paddocks - see blog

Grown on our farm in Herefordshire. Buy with confidence - read our customer reviews.

The specifications shown below are our normal range but we often have additional options.  If there is something that you are looking for, it's often worth contacting us.

Please Email Us or call 01989552028 if you would prefer to order on the phone or have any questions or to discuss a discount for larger quantities.


British Grown
Minimum Order Value £1000 +VAT
Free delivery over £3,000+VAT*
Trade terms available for orders over £5,000+VAT
Planting Essentials
Bagging Options
Product Options Height Age Root Type Specification 1+ 100+ 250+ Quantity Qty
Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Height: 20-40cm Age: 1 yr Root Type: Cell grown Specification: cell grown Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) 1+ £2.00 (ex. VAT) 100+ £1.90 (ex. VAT) 250+ £1.80 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 12
20-40cm 1 yr Cell grown cell grown £2.00 (ex. VAT) £1.90 (ex. VAT) £1.80 (ex. VAT) Out of stock | Email me when back in stock
Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Height: 40-60cm Age: 2 yr Root Type: Bare Root Specification: 1U1 (undercut) Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) 1+ £1.00 (ex. VAT) 100+ £0.90 (ex. VAT) 250+ £0.85 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 25
40-60cm 2 yr Bare Root 1U1 (undercut) £1.00 (ex. VAT) £0.90 (ex. VAT) £0.85 (ex. VAT)
Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Height: 60-80cm Age: 2 yr Root Type: Bare Root Specification: 1U1 (undercut) Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) 1+ £1.20 (ex. VAT) 100+ £1.10 (ex. VAT) 250+ £1.00 (ex. VAT) Please Purchase in Multiples of: 25
60-80cm 2 yr Bare Root 1U1 (undercut) £1.20 (ex. VAT) £1.10 (ex. VAT) £1.00 (ex. VAT)
Total: £0.00 (ex. VAT)

Our range of Purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) bare root plants

We have bare root Rhamnus cathartica plants in several sizes.   The 1U1 specification plants are seedlings (often called whips) which were grown from seed in the spring and instead of being sold in the following November to April period they are kept in situ in the field and grown on for a further year or longer which makes a strong bushy plant. We trim their roots underground with a specialised machine which helps to develop a fibrous root system.

We always have several batches of seed of Rhamnus cathartica including UK provenance and the highest quality imported seed so if the seed provenance is particularly important to you, please give us a call so that we can allocate plants from the most appropriate batch.

You can read more about the specifications we offer on the tab just below the pricing table.

Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Summary

A spiny small tree or large shrub, named after the purging affect of the berries (beware!).  This is a native shrub similar in appearance to dogwood or alder buckthorn (it prefers drier soils to alder buckthorn) but with spiny branches and with leaves held opposite rather than alternate.  It’s a great choice for shade or sunlight and its leaves are the main food stuff for the brimstone butterfly as well as providing pollen and nectar for pollinating insects.  It makes a really good addition to a mixed hedge because its spiny branches provide good nesting sites, it has wildlife friendly flowers and berries and will be covered in brimstone butterflies if planted into a south facing hedgerow.

This blog summarises the differences between Purging Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.

Soil and Situation

Purging buckthorn is a tough, hardy tree/shrub and will grow in virtually all soils in sun or shade, beside streams in soils that retail some moisture in dry seasons.

Leaves, flowers and fruit of Purging buckthorn

The leaves of are quite distinctive with curved veins which come together at the tip. They are quite large (up to 9cm), matt green in summer, turning yellow in autumn and are finely toothed.

Flowers are small, yellow-green, and are pollinated by insects and it comes into flower later than many other native species of hedgerow plants – during May and June – which extends the flowering season.

Fruit (called drupes) are black berries the size of blackcurrants, with a strong purging, laxative affect if eaten by humans, cattle and horses but are popular with birds.

The bark is pale grey-brown, fissured on older plants.

Eventual height and growth rate

Maximum height is about 10m (a small tree) but Purging buckthorn can also be trimmed as a hedge.  Growth rate is average at about 30cm pa.





This section gives definitions on the specifications of plants that we sell.  We are specialists in field grown (or bare root) plants which are grown in two ways.  The majority are grown from seed, some are ready within one growing season (seedlings or 1+0's) and some species require two growing seasons (1u1's).  In addition to growing from seed we also grow from small plants or cuttings (transplants) which are much more widely spaced (taking more land, more irrigation water, fertilisers and labour).  There are only a handful of bare root wholesale nurseries in the UK and of those even fewer grow transplants but Ray Jenkins has many years' experience of transplanting so we grow these in large volumes.  Ray has written this blog about the benefits of bare root plants and how they are grown and another blog which gives further detail on bare root specifications.

The detailed specifications are shown below.  If you are in doubt about what specification to use please email us on with a description of the project (and photos if appropriate) and we will advise you.

1+0 - field grown in one season from seed, known as a seedling (sometimes called a whip), generally a slender single stem plant.   These are the cheapest specification and are particularly suitable for planting where weed competition will be less intense, soil is shallow or on exposed windy sites.  Gives a high root to shoot ratio and minimal plant "check".

2+0 - a 2 year seedling, field grown from seed in the same seed bed in two growing seasons where the species cannot be grown to a saleable plant from seed in one season

1U1 - 2 year old plant called an undercut, field grown for two seasons in the same seed bed and undercut by machine (a sharp blade cutting the roots under the soil level) after the first year to develop the root structure. We do this with several species which take 2 years to develop (eg oak, beech, hornbeam)

1+1 - 2 year old plant (transplant) grown from seed in the first year and then transplanted into a different area of the field and spaced out for the second growing season - a robust plant with a larger and more robust root system than seedling or undercut plant which will enable it to better withstand drought and weed competition. Often the best choice and the staple norm for farm hedging and this specification is a requirement of the Countryside Stewardship Grant

1+2- a 3 year old plant, two years field growing in the seedbed and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further two growing seasons giving a tall, stocky, bushy plant

2+1- a 3 year old plant, two years field growing in the seedbed and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further growing season, giving a strong bushy plant

3+1 - as above but field grown for a further growing season for more height and a very bushy plant

1+3- 4 year old, one year field growing in the seed beds and then transplanted (and spaced out) for three years, giving a very strong, bushy plant

2+2- 4 year old, two years field growing in the seed beds and then transplanted (and spaced out) for a further two years - a very mature plant suited to certain species like beech and hornbeam where we can offer almost instant hedging

and some that are a bit different.....

P9 - a plant grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel in a 9cm pot (for holly which germinates poorly in the field)

Cell grown - a plant grown in small deep cells (like a small yogurt pot) and then lifted out of those for transportation. Commonly used in forestry and large hedging projects.  Very high quality plants with excellent success rate.  See our blog on the benefits of cell grown plants.

C+1 or C+2 - a 3 or 4 year old plant initally started as hardwood cuttings grown on for a year as cell grown plants and then lined out in fields to grow on for a further 1 or 2 years (a technique used for Cherry Laurel)

0/1 - a hardwood cutting, then field grown for one season (for example for white willow, black poplar and osier)