Skip to main content

Invasive Species: Glossy Buckthorn

Glossy Buckthorn

(Rhamnus frangula or Frangula alnus)

*Established in Michigan*

Report this species:

Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone -


The underside of a glossy buckthorn branch showing leaves, white flowers and greenish-red fruit. 

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,  

A glossy buckthorn bush with red fruit growing in a field.

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,      


  • Small tree or shrub – can reach 18 feet tall.
  • Leaves are simple, alternate, shiny and un-toothed.
  • Flowers are tiny, contain 5 greenish-white petals and are clustered at the base of leaves (late May-September bloom).
  • The plant does not have thorns.
  • Pea-sized fruits ripen from green to red to dark purple (June-September).
  • Distinctive orange inner bark.

Habitat: While glossy buckthorn can tolerate shade, it prefers sunlight in moist soils. Often found in wetlands like prairie fens, as well as along fence rows, roadsides, open woods and in pastures.

Native Range: Europe and Asia.

U. S. Distribution:  Northeast through the Midwest.

Local Concern: This invasive shrub is a threat to native plants in prairie fens and other ecologically important wetland communities. It is a host for alfalfa mosaic virus and crown fungus and may be a possible host for the soybean aphid.


Glossy Buckthorn Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF

Best Control Practices Guide for Glossy Buckthorn - This document provides in-depth information about glossy buckthorn in the state of Michigan, including identification, distribution, management and control options.