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Brimestone caterpillar on Purging Buckthorn Credit: Robyn Guppy

Local provenance shrubs

 

buckthorn

Purging Buckthorn

Rhamnus cathartica

This native, deciduous shrub grows on limestone and chalk in both woodlands and as part of scrubby wood edge and grassland habitats.

This shrub can grow to 10m in height, its flowers are inconspicuous but it does bear crops of small black berries which can be quite obvious in early autumn. The twigs have spines and the leaves are arranged on opposite sides of the twigs.

Purging buckthorn along with the similar looking alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) is the food plant for the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) butterfly which is increasing its range and expanding in to the Dales. Purging buckthorn is also the food plant for the rare Tissue Moth (Triphosa dubitata) which overwinters as an adult using the many caves that are present in the Dales. They emerge in spring and seek out purging buckthorn plants to lay their eggs on.

Wild Privet

Ligustrum vulgare

wild privet

Wild Privet is a native, semi-evergreen shrub of limestone and chalk areas which grows to 5m. Similar to the garden privet (Ligustrum japonica), wild privet has oval, shiny green leaves with white flowers in the summer which produce small, matt-black berries in the autumn.

Wild Privet is a valuable shrub for a range of species including invertebrates and birds which benefit from the flowers, berries and dense cover provided by this plant. In the Dales, wild privet is crucial to maintaining the presence of the Barred Tooth-striped Moth (Trichopteryx polycommata) as it lays its eggs on the leaves which then feed the caterpillars. The Barred Tooth-striped is a Nationally Scarce-A moth with only two known sites in Yorkshire, both of which are in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Wild Privet is a shrub of limestone woodlands, hedgerows and scrubby areas and appears to be quite uncommon in the national park with just a few scattered plants in isolated locations.