Its Growth and General Appearance.—Its Floral and Fruit Productiveness.— Medicinal and other Uses of its Berries.— Its Ornamental Value.—Its Suitability as a Hedge-plant.—How Propagated, and Manner of Culture and Training.—Its other Characteristics.
This tree is of low growth, rarely exceeding fifteen feet in height, having numerous and irregular branches covered with thorns. Its leaves are of a bright-green color, about an inch in length and smooth of surface. Its flowers, which appear in May and June, form in clusters, and are of a yellowish-green color. Its fruit ripens and is gathered in autumn in the northern part of the United States, and is of a globular form and bluish-black color. The juice of its berries is used as a dye or stain, and also as a vegetable paint. Its berries are strongly purgative, but are not much used in medicine owing to the severity of their action.
The buckthorn is cultivated both for use and ornament in the New England States and other places, and is considered very suitable for hedging, in consequence of its robust and rigid habit of growth. It may be propagated from seed, cuttings, or layers, and will thrive best in a rich, moist soil. For hedging, sow seed to the depth of half an inch, in a shady situation, so as to prevent the sun acting severely on the young plants as they come above ground; transplant at nine inches apart in.single rows, and prune back in the following spring to within six or eight inches of their bed's surface ; this will cause the hedge to be thick at the bottorn, which is a considerable advantage where strength and durability are requisite. All that remains at this period of their growth is to keep the plants clear from weeds, and trim the hedge every season. The month of June has been found a good time to clip, as the plants soon recover their beauty of foliage, owing to the active circulation of their sustaining juices at that season.
As this plant attains considerable height, it is well suited for arching or trellis-work, and, by being trained, will form a beautiful, densely shaded arbor or covered walk. Its natural growth being sufficiently interwoven, it needs no interlacing, and may be clipped into any shape or form which the caprice of the grower may imagine. It is not habited to throw out suckers, nor is it ever encumbered by dead wood. Owing to the green coloring contrasted by its flowers, it does not show much gayety when in bloom; but when laden with its bluish-black berries it presents quite a striking appearance, highly ornamental.