A deciduous tree or shrub that grows 12-15 ft. tall, the leaves of this plant remain green until late fall. Yellow flowers appear in clusters at the bases of the leaves during May and June. The flowers are not particularly showy. It has a fleshy fruit that measures 1/4 inch in diameter, red when ripe, and black when mature.
Many songbirds and other wildlife consume the berries, which might have medicinal properties, but can also be toxic. Despite its name, this species does not have spines. The standard and Latin names of this species refer to the location of its discovery in South Carolina.
Carolina buckthorn grows in the understory and has bright green leaves; it can be used as a specimen or as a standalone piece. Several bird species eat these colorful red fruits. In the fall, the fruits turn black. Like flowering dogwoods, Carolina buckthorn is airy and tiered in light shade. A minimum of three to four hours of sun per day is required. As the plant gets more sun, it tends to become dense and shrubby, losing some of its charms. It is common for seedlings to become produced in abundance.
Light: Part Shade, Dappled Shade
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9