The Alder buckthorn is a shrub growing up to a couple of metres high. It blooms in June and July. In late summer, you can find whitish flowers, green and red raw berries and ripe black berries from the same shrub.
Alder buckthorn grows in nutrient-rich and moist habitats, such as peat forests, bogs and streams. It is prevalent in Eurasia and North Africa; nowadays, also in North America, where it was introduced and naturalised.
Alder buckthorn has been used as medicine in the past, for its laxative properties. However, its fresh bark and berry are poisonous when consumed. The plant has also been used as a source of yellow and black dyes. Charcoal made from the alder buckthorn is used to make gunpowder.
In the past, Alder buckthorn’s habitats diminished due to clearing of woody marshes. On the other hand, slash-and-burn cultivation and agriculture have created new habitats to field edges. There is hardly any forestry use for Alder buckthorn, but it increases the diversity in forests. Protection of buffer zones near waters is beneficial for Alder buckthorn too.
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