Rhamnus L.


Classical name for this genus.

Shrubs or small trees. Leaves alternate, pinnately veined, stalked. Flowers mostly unisexual and sexes on different plants. Calyx tube fused to the ovary, the sepals 4-5 and soon shed. Petals 0, 4 or 5. Stamens 5. Disk absent. Ovary superior, of 2-4 chambers, the style with 2-4 branches. Fruit a drupe containing 2-4 nutlets.

Grown mostly for the dense, formal foliage.

125 species, mostly from the northern hemisphere but extending to Brazil and S Africa.

Seed, cuttings and grafting.

Fruits and other parts are used for medicinal purposes (R. cathartica, is a purgative, as is R. purshiana, Cascara). Dyes are extracted from the bluish purple berries, e.g. the pigment sap green from R. cathartica, green indigo used for silk dyeing from R. utilis, and a yellow dye from R. infectoria. R. frangula was once the source of charcoal used in gunpowder. A few species are used for timber.

Leaves alternate, pinnately veined; flowers greenish and fruit fleshy.

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Rhamnaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Rosales
family       Rhamnaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Rhamnus alaternus L.