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Citation. Knight, K.S.; Kurylo, J.S.; Endress, A.G.; Stewart, J.R.; Reich, P.B. 2007. Ecology and ecosystem impacts of common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica): a review. BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS 9:925-937.
Abstract. In this review, we synthesize the current knowledge of the ecology and impacts of
Rhamnus cathartica L., a shrub from Europe and Asia that is a successful invader in
North America. Physiological studies have uncovered traits including shade tolerance,
rapid growth, high photosynthetic rates, a wide tolerance of moisture and drought, and an
unusual phenology that may give R. cathartica an advantage in the environments it
invades. Its high fecundity, bird-dispersed fruit, high germination rates, seedling success
in disturbed conditions, and secondary metabolite production may also contribute to its
ability to rapidly increase in abundance and impact ecosystems. R. cathartica impacts
ecosystems through changes in soil N, elimination of the leaf litter layer, possible
facilitation of earthworm invasions, unsubstantiated effects on native plants through
allelopathy or competition, and effects on animals that may or may not be able to use it
for food or habitat.
Key words: Allelopathy - Buckthorn - Competition - Dispersal - Growth - Invasive - Nitrogen - Reproduction - Rhamnus cathartica