Buckthorn Purshs
  • Botanical: Rhamnus purshiana
  • Family: Rhamnaceae
  • Known as: cascara buckthorn, cascara, bearberry,
  • Old Use: medical, culinary, industry

Buckthorn Purshs

Cascara is a large shrub or small tree 4.5–10 m tall, with a trunk 20–50 cm in diameter. The outer bark is brownish to silver-grey with light splotching (often, in part, from lichens) and the inner surface of the bark is smooth and yellowish (turning dark brown with age and/or exposure to sunlight). Cascara bark has an intensely bitter flavor that will remain in the mouth for hours, overpowering the taste buds. The leaves are simple, deciduous, alternate, clustered near the ends of twigs. They are oval, 5–15 cm long and 2–5 cm broad with a 0.6–2 cm petiole, shiny and green on top, and a dull, paler green below; and have tiny teeth on the margins, and parallel veins. Leaves, flower, and young fruits of R. purshiana The flowers are tiny, 4–5 mm diameter, with five greenish yellow petals, forming a cup shape. The flowers bloom in umbel-shaped clusters, on the ends of distinctive peduncles that are attached to the leaf axils. The flowering season is brief, from early to mid- spring, disappearing by early summer. The fruit is a drupe 6–10 mm diameter, bright red at first, quickly maturing deep purple or black, and containing a yellow pulp, and two or three hard, smooth, olive-green or black seeds

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