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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Rhamnus alaternus
evergreen buckthorn


Rhamnus alaternus - evergreen buckthornReproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Evergreen shrub up to 5 m tall, or stunted in exposed sites.

  • Flowers Green, small, fragrant, 3-4 mm in diameter, with no petals. Usually in hairy, scale-leaved racemes or panicles. The turned-back calyx lobes are usually red-edged. Flowers May-Nov.
  • Fruit Glossy dark red, egg-shaped drupes to 7 mm long, turning black.
  • Leaves Leathery, glossy on the top surface. Elliptical or egg-shaped, up to 6 cm long by 3 cm wide. Leaves entire or with teeth that can be blunt or sharp toothed.
  • Stems Young shoots purplish, angled, hairy.


Scrub, forest margins and plantations.


Common in and around Auckland City and Hauraki Gulf islands, decreasing southwards in NI. Occasional in Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago in SI. Originally from the Mediterranean.


A serious weed in some areas, such as on Rangitoto Island. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Rhamnus Gr. name for a shrub; alaternus Lat. name.

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Last updated: July 13, 2014