This small tree’s full vernacular name is ‘purging buckthorn’, so you would be well advised to exclude its berries from your autumnal foraging trips. Buckthorn fruits, which ripen this month to resemble a diminutive black grape, are an intense laxative. They are best left to birds, which consume them regardless of any ill effects. Buckthorn grows in hedgerows, scrub and woodland, and is the principal foodplant of brimstone caterpillars.
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