Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Rhamnus alaternus
L., Rhamnaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  no

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

English: Italian buckthorn, evergreen buckthorn

French: alaterne

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Thornless shrub, 1-5 m. Leaves evergreen, glabrous except for bearding in the axils of the veins beneath, ovate to elliptic, 3-7 x 2-3 cm, acute, margin horny-serrate. Flowers in condensed panicles. Fruit black when ripe" (Davis, 1967; p. 531).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grass- and heathland, riparian habitats, froests, coastal dunes and beaches.  In the native range, this shrub is common in dry rocky places, Mediterranean scrub, and dry forests.  It is fast growing and resprouts vigorously from the base after damage.  The shrub forms dense thickets that shade out native plants and lead to species-poor stands"  (Weber, 2003; p. 356).

In New Zealand, "Coastal and other shrublands, cliffs, forest margins, inshore and offshore islands, and rocky lands. Quick growing, long-lived, forms dense stands and produces many viable, long-lived and well dispersed seeds. Tolerant to salt, wind, poor soils, frost and heat, damage and grazing, and seedlings also tolerate deep shade. Grows quickly when a light gap appears. Forms dense stands and prevents the establishment of native plant seedlings. Acts as a low shrub on windswept rocky shores or understorey shrub in tall canopy"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Propagation:  "It spreads both by seeds and by root suckering.  Fruits are abundantly produced and seeds dispersed by birds"  (Weber, 2003; p. 356).

Native range:  Mediterranean area, Crimea (Davis, 1967; p. 531).


Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 356)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
Owen, S. J. (1997)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 1047)
"Mainly in scrub, around forest margins and plantations, becoming a serious weed in some northern localities".

Comments:  Reported as an invasive plant in New Zealand (Owen, 1996).

Control:  "Control female plants first to minimise seeding.

Physical:  Pull or dig small plants (all year round). Leave on site to rot down.

Chemical:  1. Cut down and paint stump (all year round): triclopyr 600 EC (100ml/L) or Yates Hydrocotyle Killer (500ml/L) or Tordon Brushkiller (100ml/L) or glyphosate (250ml/L) or metsulferon-methyl 600g/kg (10g + 20ml penetrant/L).
2. Cut and squirt (all year round): Make 1 cut every 50 mm around the trunk and apply triclopyr 600 EC (10ml) or Tordon Brushkiller (10ml) to each cut.
3. Spray (spring-summer): triclopyr 600 EC (20ml/10L + penetrant) or Yates Hydrocotyle Killer (10ml/L)"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

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This page was created on 17 JAN 2004 and was last updated on 22 DEC 2012.