Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Rhamnales>Rhamnaceae>Sageretia minutiflora (Michaux) C. Mohr

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) leaves

Small-flowered Buckthorn is a very odd shrub, seemingly halfway between a shrub and a vine. Leaning on other shrubs and trees for support, it can reach heights of 25 feet or so. Growing in shell middens and hammocks, Small-flowered Buckthorn is rare throughout its range along the immediate coast from Mississippi to NC, except in Florida, where it is widespread.

Carteret Co., NC 7/13/2008.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

One of the rarest shrubs in North Carolina, it is found in a few sites on Bogue Banks in Carteret County, the northern limit of its range, and has also been found in Onslow Co. Harry LeGrand discovered the population photographed here at Hoop Pole Creek Preserve in Atlantic Beach, NC.

Carteret Co., NC 7/13/2008.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

Carteret Co., NC 7/13/2008.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

Carteret Co., NC 9/28/2008.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

Carteret Co., NC 9/28/2008.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora)

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) leaves

The small, toothed leaves are opposite or sub-opposite. They are tardily deciduous.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) leaves

Not pictured, the small flowers for which the species is named appear in August or September.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) leaves

Also known as Smallflower Mock Buckthorn (USDA PLANTS) or Tiny-leaved Buckthorn (NatureServe). The leaves are small but not particularly tiny, larger than the similarly-shaped (but much thicker and alternate) leaves of Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria).

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) bark

Bark detail, showing thorn-tipped branches.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Small-flowered Buckthorn (Sageretia minutiflora) bark

The trunk tends not to be very straight! Most of the stems in this photo are part of one Sageretia, the main trunk of which emerges in the top middle of the photo and takes a couple of right angle turns before finally heading up and out to the right of the frame.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

More information:
Biological Research Associates
Protected Plants of Georgia (pdf)
USDA PLANTS Database

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cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text ©2011 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.