Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)
Evergreen shrub to small tree, glabrous except for stems which are
short-pubescent, mature height unknown, currently 7 meters tall; lvs. alternate,
dark green above, lighter below, to 5.5 cm. long, 2.5 cm. wide, most 2.5-3.0 cm.
long, 1.3-1.5 cm. wide, edges with sharp gland-like projections on margins,
mucronate, coriaceous; petioles to 12 mm. long; stems gray, new wood reddish;
stipules subulate, two per lf. axil, 1.5 mm. long; fls. mostly 5-merous, in
axillary racemes, calyx lobes fleshy, green, flecked with purple at tips, 1 mm.
long, drying early; petals absent; stamens 5 alternate with sepals, most
sterile; peduncle thick with purplish glandular tomentum; style one, stigmas 3;
drupe 4-5 mm. in dia., obovoid, reddish. Flowers
are variable with one plant having 5, 6 & 7 sepals on the same stem.
Escape from cultivation, complete habitat unknown.
Blooms late winter, early spring here.
Rham-nus, ancient Greek name.
(Bailey 645). Rhamnus was the name of a city in Attica, a region of ancient
Greece. Why it was chosen by a
botanist for use as a genus name is not known.
General: Becoming common in Big Canyon where more plants are found each year. Most of the flowers on this plant are staminate only with no pistil. There are however, enough flowers with pistils to produce a considerable amount of fruit, which can be seen in the photographs (my comments). Rhamnus purschiana, or Cascara Sagrada, which grows from British Columbia to Montana and Northern California, is one of the best remedies for chronic constipation. Mix four teaspoonfuls of the bark in a quart of boiling water, let steep for one hour, and drink one or two cupfuls a day. Among Indians it is known as "sacred bark." It was sacred to them because of the excellent results they obtained from its use. (Kloss 214). 125 species of temperate areas, few tropical. Some of value in medicine or dyes. (Hickman, Ed. 940). See Rhamnus species #1 for additional comments on the genus. (my comment).
Bailey 644; Hickman, Ed. 940; Munz, Flora So Calif. 738.
Photo Ref: Jan-Mar 96 #
3,5,11; Feb 05 #3; Mar-April 05 #11A,12A,14A.
Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by John Johnson.
First Found: January 1996.
Computer Ref: Plant Data 489.
Plant specimen donated to UC Riverside in 2004.
Last edit. 8/8/05.
February Photo April Photo