Buckthorn, Alder

Information on Alder Buckthorn

Common Name: Alder Buckthorn
Scientific Name: Frangula alnus
Irish Name: Draighean fearna
Family Group: Rhamnaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Alder Buckthorn could sometimes be confused with:


Found mainly on damp, peaty soil but also across the limestone pavement of the Burren, Alder Buckthorn is a shrub or small deciduous tree which can reach to 5 metres high. It bears small green-white flowers (3mm across) which have 5 triangular petals and 5 sepals, 5 stamens and 1 style. They are borne in dense clusters in the axils of the upper leaves. The distinctive leaves are oval, alternate and untoothed. They are shiny green and have 7 pairs of lateral veins. The flowers bloom in May and June, followed by round berries (6-10mm across) which start as green, becoming red and then black. This is a native species which is not widespread, occuring mainly in the north, midlands and Counties Galway and Clare. It belongs to the Buckthorn or Rhamnaceae family. 

I first identified this species in 2017 beside Loch Gealain in the Burren when I also photographed it. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Alder Buckthorn is one of the foodplants of the Brimstone butterfly. 

Buckthorn, Alder
Buckthorn, Alder
Buckthorn, Alder
Buckthorn, Alder