Rhamnus alaternus is a species of flowering plant in the buckthorn family known by the common name of Italian buckthorn or Mediterranean buckthorn.
The genus name derives from the Ancient Greek "rabdos", or “stick” with reference to the presence in many species of woody spine on the end of each twig. The specific Latin name alaternus, assonant with "alternus" or “alternate”, refers to the alternate leaves.
Rhamnus alaternus is an evergreen shrub Template:Convert high.<ref name=Pignatti>Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia – Edagricole – 1982. Vol. II, pag. 78</ref> The stems have reddish bark and pubescent young branches, rounded and compact foliage with alternating leaves, Template:Convert long,<ref name=Pignatti/> sometimes nearly opposite, oval or lanceolate, leathery, shiny green, yellowish-green underneath.
The small fragrant flowers are gathered in a short axillary yellow-green raceme. The flowering period extends from February to April. Fruits are obovoidal red-brownish drupes of about Template:Convert,<ref name=Pignatti/> containing from 2 to 4 seeds. The drupes darken to black when ripe. Fruits have medicinal properties and can be used with caution as a laxative.
Distribution and habitat
This species is widespread in thermophilic evergreen bush and scrubland of the Mediterranean climate regions, from sea level up to 700 m above sea level.<ref name=Pignatti/>
This species is cultivated as an ornamental garden shrub, valued for its glossy evergreen leaves and red berries. The variegated cultivar 'Argenteovariegata'<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
- Rhamnus alaternus L. subsp. alaternus
- Rhamnus alaternus L. subsp. myrtifolia (Willk.) Maire
- Rhamnus alaternus L. subsp. pendula (Pamp.) Jafri