Tall understory shrub or small tree up to 20-25’ tall, often with several stems arising from the base, and spreading crown. Gray to brown bark with prominent light-colored lenticels. (Caution: native plums and cherries have a similar bark). Plants are either male or female. Cut bark exposes yellow sapwood and orange heartwood. Twigs often end in stout thorns.
- Invades oak forests, riparian woods, savannas, prairies, old fields, and roadsides. It thrives particularly on well-drained soils.
- Common buckthorn has a broad environmental tolerance. It leafs out very early and retains its leaves late into the growing season, giving them a longer growing season than native plants.
- Creates dense shade, eliminating regeneration of tree seedlings and understory species.
- Allelopathic; produces chemical compounds that inhibit the growth of other vegetation.
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