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  Services » Regional Services » Plant and animal pests » Pest plants » Evergreen buckthorn

Evergreen buckthorn

Evergreen buckthorn


Evergreen buckthorn

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Why it is a pest plant


Identifying Features

Production threat Environmental threat Public threat

Identifying features

Evergreen buckthorn is a shrub or small tree which grows 5-10 metres tall. The plant can be distinguished from native species by the two small holes at its leaf base and the ‘buckthorns’ – matching bumps – on the top of its leaves.


  • Flowers are small (3-4mm in diameter) and green.
  • Flowers are fragrant, have no petals and grow in small clusters.
  • Flowering is from May to November.

Fruit/ seed

  • Individual plants are usually separate gender (male or female).
  • Fruits grow up to 7mm long.
  • The berries grow in clusters and are a glossy dark red colour.
  • Berries form a stone and change to black when ripe.


  • Leaves vary in appearance, but are usually dark green, glossy on top, oval and up to 6cm long.
  • The edge of the leaves can be smooth or with blunt or sharp teeth.
  • Young shoots are angular, purplish and hairy.

Evergreen buckthorn is an evergreen shrub/tree that grows up to 10m. There are separate male and female plants, which may account for its slow spread to date. It can quickly take over stream and forest margins and disturbed forests, changing the structure of native ecosystems. It is a serious threat to coastal areas as it can form thick stands and interfere with native plant regeneration.

This multi-stemmed evergreen shrub/tree is tolerant of dry or exposed conditions. It produces a lot of berries from a young age, which are dispersed by birds. It may also grow from suckers.

Evergreen buckthorn originates from the Mediterranean and was introduced to New Zealand as an ornamental plant. It is common in Auckland and on islands in the Hauraki Gulf. Evergreen buckthorn is limited in the Waikato region to only a few localised infestations in Hamilton, Te Kauwhata and the Coromandel. Infestations need to be identified and destroyed to prevent this weed from spreading further.

Responsibility for control

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for controlling evergreen buckthorn. However, landowners/occupiers in the Waikato are encouraged to report evergreen buckthorn on their properties. Evergreen buckthorn is also banned from being sold, propagated, distributed or included in commercial displays.

How to control evergreen buckthorn

If you see this weed on your property, do not cut or treat it. Call 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732) to report it to your local biosecurity pest plant officer.

Images of Evergreen Buckthorn

More information


  • For advice and additional information on control methods, call our pest plant staff on freephone 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732).
  • Chemical company representatives, farm supply stores and garden centres can also be good sources for advice.


View, download or order the following publications or call our freephone 0800 800 401.

  • National Pest Plant Accord (Manual of plants banned from sale, propagation and distribution) ($10.00 plus GST)
  • Plant Me Instead! (Plants to use in place of common pest plants) (free)
  • Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) (free) (Section 5.8, page 56)
  • Waikato Regional Council pest guide (free)
  • What makes a pest a pest? A summary of the Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan (free)


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