Buckthorn. European buckthorn fruits

Buckthorn. European buckthorn fruits

Buckthorn. European buckthorn fruits

Specification & Spread

European buckthorn fruits — fructus rhamni catharticae
European buckthorn — rhamnus cathartica l.
Buckthorn family — rhamnaceae
Other names: purging buckthorn

It is a branched shrub or more often a small tree up to 8 m tall.
The bark of young branches is smooth, shiny, red-brown, the old branches and stocks are rough.
The branches and leaves are located opposite, the ends of the branches are often with prickles.
The leaves are long-petiolate, broadly elliptic with a finely serrate margin, shiny on top, dark green, with three pairs of lateral veins of the first order, arcuately converging to the top of the leaf.
Еру flowers are dioecious, tetramerous, small, fragrant, greenish, gathered in bunches of 10-15 in the axils of the leaves.
The fruit is a juicy spherical black cenocarp drupe with 3-4 stones.

It blooms in May – June, the fruits ripen in August – September.

Spreading. It is widely spread in the south of the European part of the country in the forest, forest-steppe and steppe zones, in the Caucasus, in the forest-steppe zone of Western Siberia and some regions of Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

Habitat. It grows in deciduous and mixed forests, on forest edges, in thickets, on sunny stony places, on dry riverine meadows, sometimes forms large thickets.


The buckthorn fruits contain:

  • antraglycosides,
  • frangulaemodine derivatives, chrysophanol,
  • flavonoids (ramnetine, kaempferol, quercetin),
  • pectic substances
  • organic acids
  • sugar.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The fruits are harvested at full maturity. Preliminarily inspect the plant so as not to collect by mistake the fruits of Persian berry. For the harvesting use hooks and portable ladders to bend down the branches. The fruits are harvested by hand, putting it in baskets or buckets.
Security measures. You can not break off the branches, as this leads to the destruction of thickets.

Drying. It is pre-dried and dried in ovens or dryers at a temperature of 50-60ºС. The raw materials are laid out in a thin layer of 3-4 cm on nets, sheets of plywood or baking sheets. For uniform drying, the raw materials are periodically mixed. Well dried fruits should be scattered when squeezed in a hand and do not form a lump.

Storage. It is stored in a dry, well-ventilated area in a special pantry for fruits and seeds. The raw materials are easily damaged by barn pests.

External signs of raw materials

The fruits are rounded drupes fruits with a shiny, wrinkled surface, 5-8 mm in diameter, with a slight inconspicuous remnant of the stalk and with a preserved stalk or recess in place of its separation.
The brown pulp, with 3-4 (less often 2) dark brown stones of a trihedral or ovoid shape with a hard peel.
The colour of the fruit is almost black. The smell is weak and unpleasant. The taste is sweet-bitter.

Properties and application

Buckthorn preparations are taken orally in the form of infusions, decoctions, liquid extracts and as part of laxatives for chronic atonic and spastic constipation. Therapeutic effect have derivatives of antraglycosides. It irritates the intestinal interoreceptors and cause increased peristalsis, especially of the large intestine, leading to its emptying.

Buckthorn preparations have a mild laxative effect with a long latent period and have antibacterial properties. The effect occurs after 8-10 hours after taking the preparations. The slow action and predominant effect on the colon is usually attributed to the gradual disintegration of antraglycosides. At the same time, the active substances necessary for the laxative effect gradually accumulate in the lower intestine, increasing peristalsis, especially of the large intestine.

It should be remembered that European buckthorn refers to poisonous plants, and drugs are potent drugs. In large doses, they cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and flatulence.


Do not use dosage forms from the buckthorn fruits in some intestinal diseases, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also do not consume immature fruits, because it contains substances (reduced forms of anthracene derivatives) that cause abdominal cramps and vomiting.