Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Purging buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica

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Buds officially in pairs, although occasionally one bud may slip down below the other.

Purging Buckthorn flowers occur mainly on the old wood Female flowers showing ovary with style divided into 4 stigmas. The male stamens are non-functioning and do not develop
Simple pinnate leaf. The few veins curve inwards towards the tip. Berries strongly purgative. POISONOUS.

 

PURGING BUCKTHORN Rhamnus cathartica

 

Only one Purging Buckthorn tree is known in Hainault Forest. It is bent over and laying prostrate and  is found in the scrub at the top of the Common towards Lambourne End. It is possibly the third largest recorded tree in the British Isles. It is 29cms. diameter at breast height (measured 4ft. from base) giving a girth of 92 cms. Buckthorns, like Hollies are dioecious and our tree is female. The flowers are pollinated by many insects and each year it produces berries. Berries have been collected from the tree and it is hoped to germinate them to produce some replacement trees. It was probably known to Old Dido a vagrant who was encamped near Sheepwater in the late 1800's and who made herbal medicines. It is a strong purgative. 

 

Fallen, but still very much alive!