Rhamnus frangula is commonly called alder buckthorn because it is frequently seen in the wild growing in moist soils near alders (Alnus). It is also commonly called glossy buckthorn in reference to its glossy leaves. ‘Columnaris’, also known as tallhedge buckthorn, is a fastigiate, once patented cultivar that was originally grown by the patent holder from seed. It has been popular in commerce since the 1950s. It is a deciduous shrub that typically grows in a narrow fastigiate shape to 12-15’ tall but to only 4’ wide with its stems and branches erect, laterally compact, close together and sometimes twining. Glossy, oval to obovate, dark green leaves (to 3” long) retain green color well into fall, usually resulting in poor fall color. Insignificant whitish-green flowers appear in axillary clusters in May-June. Flowers are attractive to bees. Flowers are followed by inedible berries that ripen in July. Berries change from green to red to dark purple as they mature. Birds are attracted to the berries and help spread them over the landscape and into neighboring areas U.S. Plant Patent PP1,388 was issued April 26, 1955.
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