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Alder Buckthorn Frangula alnus (Rhamnaceae) HEIGHT to 5m. A small tree with a broadly spreading or sometimes sprawling habit. BARK Smooth, grey and vertically furrowed bark. BRANCHES The twigs have numerous small fine hairs and are green at first, becoming grey-brown later, and are opposite, like the branches. LEAVES Opposite, up to 7cm long, broadly ovate with entire margins and a short-pointed tip. There are up to 9 pairs of veins on the leaf; these curve towards the margin. The leaves are glossy-green above and paler below, turning a clear lemon-yellow in autumn, or redder if exposed to bright sunlight. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS The greenish-white 5-petalled flowers are very small and inconspicuous, rarely more than 3mm across; they grow in small axillary clusters and open in May or June, sometimes later. The berry-like fruits are up to 10mm in diameter and ripen from pale green through yellow to red and finally black. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION A native of much of Europe, apart from far north and drier parts of Mediterranean region. In our region it is found, as a native species, mainly in central and southern England and south Wales; it is scarce in Ireland and absent from Scotland. Alder Buckthorn grows mainly in marshy woodlands and on acidic soils.