Monday, July 30, 2012

Rhamnus cathartica (buckthorn) in Ireland - the definitive sighting

A few posts back I had excitedly wondered if I had found common buckthorn in Muckross Abbey in Killarney. I was determined to find this shrub which is a relative rarity in Ireland but has become a dominant woody invasive plants in the US Midwest.  With the help of Helana Twomey in Killarney we worked out that the plant I found was not buckthorn and was spindle (Euonymus europeaus) which keys out quite close in Irish floras.  I am not inclined to easily give up and I proceeded with my search.

Working on a tip from Dr Declan Little of Woodlands of Ireland, I made my way up to Clonbur Woods on the Galway/Mayo border.  Despite being  festooned by a small plagues of flies we found buckthorn close to the lake (Lough Mask) and growing on the limestone. The population is reasonably large.  Though not dominant is certain is prevalent enough.  Unlike the situation in Chicago where this species can be a virtual monoculture, buckthorn in Ireland seems to be more generously inclined towards its neigbours.

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