Alder buckthorn (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

Alder buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) is a naturalized shrub or small tree that is found in parts of eastern Canada and the Prairie Provinces. This plant is found along fencerows and roadsides and in lightly shaded woodlands. Several purgative chemicals, including emodin, occur in the bark and in the purple-black fruits. This plant causes usually mild symptoms if ingested by children. There is one record of fatal poisoning of a cow (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Fuller and McClintock 1985).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Rhamnus frangula L.
Vernacular name(s):
alder buckthorn
Scientific family name:
Rhamnaceae
Vernacular family name:
buckthorn

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Rhamnus frangula

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada / Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/ Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Alder buckthorn - Google Search

Toxic parts:

  • bark
  • mature fruit

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Alder buckthorn contains glycosides, which upon hydrolysis yield anthraquinones such as emodin (a trihydroxymethylanthraquinone). These chemicals are purgative; emodin has been used in laxatives (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • anthraquinones
  • emodine

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

In one case of fatal poisoning, a cow ate large quantities of leaves, twigs, and berries of alder buckthorn. The animal quickly became ill and developed symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, slow pulse, cramps, and slight fever before death. Postmortem examination showed leaves of the plant in the stomach, with gastrointestinal inflammation (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Children who ingest the plant material usually experience mild symptoms of poisoning such as transient abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. If 20 or more berries are ingested, symptoms may include gastrointestinal symptoms, fluid depletion, kidney damage, muscular convulsions, and hemorrhage. In severe cases, difficult breathing and collapse may occur. Severe poisoning is rare because of induced vomiting. Treatment should replace lost fluids and induce vomiting if it has not occurred (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Fuller and McClintock 1985).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

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