Invasive SpeciesSmooth buckthorn

Frangula alnus
FOUND by French Toast
South Portland
ID Questioned
Quality checked by Mrs.Gurnee
Peer reviewed by Julia,Joseph, and Cierra
Field Notes
Yesterday it was fairly cold - it was about 41-40 degrees Fahrenheit, including windchill. We were next to Mahoney Middle where there is a steep incline leading into a small stream (I assume erosion caused this). There were a lot of dead leaves, as winter is on its way. It smelled of freshwater, dead leaves, and rotting apples. What we heard were yells of excitement, running water, birds, and leaves crunching. A few of the things we saw are a lot of native and invasive species. One of our challenges were staying warm in this somewhat cold weather.
A sketch of our study site.
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
We believe it is the Smooth Buckthorn, because of the color of the berries (black to dark blue) and the size of the berries are usually about 1 centimeter compared to the Hollyleaf Redberry (another species in the buckthorn family) which have red berries, and are usually smaller than the Smooth Buckthorn. Lastly the Hollowleaf Redberry's stems have a thicker layer of bark unlike the Smooth Buckthorn which has a more thin layer of bark. So we can assume that this is not the Hollowleaf Redberry.
Photo of my evidence.
The leaves are green and wavy, and short (3 to 6 cm long) and skinny. They are an oval shape and are alternate. They also have a bit of hair under them. The color is a dark green, like a lime color.
Photo of my evidence.
The stem is skinny and it holds 3 Berries at a time. It is a thin bark for the stem. The color of the stem is gray and brown and It has small bumps.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Frangula alnus
Common name:
Smooth buckthorn
Sampling method: 
Just looking around
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
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Map this species
N 43.634339 °
W -70.250406 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Coastal - Beach or dune
Trip Information
Mill Creek Trout Brook
Trip date: 
Tue, 2014-10-21 12:10
Town or city: 
South Portland
Type of investigation: 
Species Survey


It is the birds and small mammals (squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, mice, voles, etc.) that probably do the most spreading of the seeds as they poop them out all over. That provides a little fertilizer right with the seed. Plants are pretty good at spreading themselves around.

Bears, foxes and coyotes probably eat the berries too.

Humans and insects maybe not so much.

Good Work!

You found Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica). Not to worry. I give you extra points for actually measuring the berries.

Smooth or glossy buckthorn has shiny leaves and does not have toothed leaves.

How do you think it spreads around so fast?

This a great web site for ID details.

Thank you for correcting us, it makes sense now. After visiting the website you sent us, we have realized that our evidence was incorrect. When you asked "How do you think it spreads around so fast" we concluded that birds eat them and "drop" the seeds making them go from one place to another so quickly. Also from previous knowledge that insects travel through fruits and plants brought to a site, maybe humans carry them and leave them to grow in non-native areas without thinking about it. Was our conclusion correct?

French Toast