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buckthorn

buckthorn, common name for some members of the Rhamnaceae, a family of woody shrubs, small trees, and climbing vines widely distributed throughout the world. The buckthorns (several species of the genus Rhamnus ) and the jujube ( Ziziphus jujuba ) are cultivated for their ornamental foliage. The jujube was also used locally and exported for use in confectionery and as a flavoring, now largely replaced by artificial flavorings. The lotus of Tennyson's Lotus-Eaters is thought to have been the jujube. Other members of the family yield dyes and a limited amount of lumber, e.g., cogwood, a hardwood. Other American species of Rhamnus are the redberry, the Indian cherry, and, in California, Rhamnus purshiana, which yields the purgative cascara sagrada. Buckthorn is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Rhamnales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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