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Purging Buckthorn Purging Buckthorn in Kelcow Wood

Local provenance shrubs


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 (Triphosa dubitata) moth which hibernates over winter 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.

Purging buckthorn is, as far as we know, patchily distributed in the Dales so using the remaining plants as a seed source we are now propagating the plants and planting them out across the limestone areas of the Dales. Existing woodlands, new woodland schemes and other wildlife projects are, and will continue to be, identified to provide new sites to expand the distribution of this shrub throughout the Dales.

wild privet

Wild Privet

Ligustrum vulgare

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 (Trichopteryx polycommata) moth 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.

We are working with partners to propagate new plants to increase the numbers of these shrubs in the limestone woodlands of the Dales.  An increase in wild privet should help safeguard the current populations of barred tooth-striped moth and enable them to spread in to new areas. In addition these shrubs will benefit the ecosystems in these habitats by providing additional resources and habitat niches for a range of species.