Italian evergreen buckthorn
Vascular – Exotic
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Terrestrial. A plant of coastal and lowland habitats, grows in sites with low - low/moderate fertility. Invades scrub, forest margin, tall forest, low forest, shrubland, fernland, cliff and bare rock and river verge communities.
Evergreen shrub to approx. 5m high, often < 1m in exposed sites. Shoots angular, hairy, usually purple when young. Stipules subulate. Petiole 3-11mm long, hairy, at least on upper side. The leaves are leathery, often toothed glossy and oval to about 6cm long. The flowers are small, green and fragrant. The berry is up to 7mm long, broad, ovoid, glossy red becoming black with a stone.
May be confused with Melicytus novae-zelandiae (endemic) in northern coastal areas. The purplish stems and fruits of Rhamnus alaternus are quite distinctive. Rhamnus cathartica is also cultivated in NZ, but is not known from the wild. R. cathartica has more ovate leaves than R. alaternus.
May, June, July, August, September, October, November
Perennial. Can spread vegetatively underground and by seed. Seed is produced at the rate of 3 seeds/fruit and 10 000 plus fruit per 8m tall individual (Timmins & MacKenzie 1995). Seed is thought to remain viable in the seed bank for three years (Wotherspoon 1996). The seed is dispersed by birds.
Reason for introduction
Highly tolerant of drought, shade and frost and tolerant to poor drainage. Physical damage, grazing and fire results in resprouting of the plant. After fire large leafy watershoots are produced from the base of the tree. Requires low to medium soil fertility.
National Pest Plant Accord species
This plant is listed in the 2020 National Pest Plant Accord. The National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA) is an agreement to prevent the sale and/or distribution of specified pest plants where either formal or casual horticultural trade is the most significant way of spreading the plant in New Zealand. For up to date information and an electronic copy of the 2020 Pest Plant Accord manual (including plant information and images) visit the MPI website.
References and further reading
Timmins & MacKenzie 1995