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Montana Field Guides

Cascara False Buckthorn - Frangula purshiana
Other Names:  Rhamnus purshiana

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Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
(see State Rank Reason below)
C-value: 6

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Of regular occurence along rivers, forest margins and edges of marshes. Widespread in NW counties.
General Description
Shrub or small tree, sometimes monoecious. Stems erect, 2–4 m; twigs, petioles and veins brown-puberulent. Leaves alternate, 4–12 cm long, serrulate; petioles 5–20 mm long. Inflorescence several-flowered, axillary umbels. Flowers perfect or unisexual, 5-merous; sepals 1–2 mm long, puberulent; petals minute; stigmas 2–3. Drupe 2- to 3-seeded, 6–9 mm across (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Lesica (2012) treats this species in the genus Rhamnus.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
BC, MT south to CA and ID (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 101

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Abrams, L. 1951. Illustrated flora of the Pacific states: Washington, Oregon, and California. Vol. 3. Geraniaceae to Scrophulariaceae. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, California. 866 pp.
    • BCDA. 1941. Propagation of the cascara tree, a conservation measure. Department of Agriculture of British Columbia [BCDA] Bulletin No. 108. 9 pp.
    • Booth, W. E. and J. C. Wright. 1966. Flora of Montana-Part II: dicotyledons. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 305 pp.
    • Clay-Poole, S.T. 1999. Ethnobotany and cultural resources of the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT Environmental Affairs Office, Cultural Resources.
    • Collingwood, G.H., and W.D. Brush. 1965. Knowing your trees. Revised and edited by D. Butcher. American Forestry Association, Washington, D.C. 349 pp.
    • Collingwood, G.H., and Warren Brush. 1964. Knowing Your Trees. The American Forestry Association, Washington, D.C. 349 p.
    • Cronquist, A., N. H. Holmgren, and P. K. Holmgren. 1997. Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, USA. Volume 3, Part A, subclass Rosidae (except Fabeles). New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY. 446 pp.
    • Davis, R. J. 1952. Flora of Idaho. W.C. Brown Co., Dubuque, Iowa. 828 pp.
    • Dirr, M.A., and C.W. Heuser Jr. 1987. The reference manual of woody plant propagation. Varsity Press, Athens, Georgia. 239 pp.
    • Dorn, R. D. 1984. Vascular Plants of Montana. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 276 pp.
    • Douglas, G. W., G. B. Straley, and D. Meidinger (eds.). 1991. The vascular plants of British Columbia. Part 3 - Dicotyledons (Primulaceae through Zygophyllaceae and Pteridophytes). Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC. 170 pp.
    • Elias, T. B. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, Inc. 948 pp.
    • Franklin, J. F., and C. T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. General Technical Report PNW-8. Portland, OR. 417 pp.
    • Gilkey, H.M. 1961. Handbook of Northwest flowering plants. 2nd edition revised. Binfords and Mort, Portland, Oregon. 390 pp.
    • Habeck, R.J. 1992. Rhamnus purshiana. In W.C. Fischer, compiler, The Fire Effects Information System (database), USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, Montana.
    • Harshberger, J.W. 1911. Phytogeographic survey of North America. Reprinted 1958 ("2nd edition"). H.R. Engelmann (J. Cramer), Weinheim/Bergstr., Germany and Hafner Publishing Company, New York. 790 pp.
    • Heiser, C.B., Jr. 1993. Ethnobotany and economic botany. Pages 199-206 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds., Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 1: Introduction. Oxford University Press, New York.
    • Hill, A.F. 1952. Economic Botany, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York. 560 pp.
    • Hill, D. 1998. The cascara tree, Rhamnus purshiana.
    • J.C. Hickman, J.C. (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1400 pp.
    • Johnson, T. 1999. CRC Ethnobotany Desk Reference.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: J.T. Kartesz, and C.A. Meacham, eds. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.
    • Krajina, V.J., K. Klinka, and J. Worrall. 1982. Distribution and ecological characteristics of trees and shrubs of British Columbia. The Univeristy of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry, Vancouver, British Columbia. 131 pp.
    • Kricher, J.C. 1993. A field guide to the ecology of western forests. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 554 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Lewis, Walter H., and Memory P.F. Elvin-Lewis. 1977. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health. John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York. 515 p.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1971. Atlas of the United States trees. Vol. I. Conifers and important hardwoods. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1146. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 200 pp.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1978. Atlas of United States trees. Vol. 5: Florida. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1361. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 126 pp.
    • Martin, A.C., H.S., Zim, and A.L. Nelson. 1951. American Wildlife and Plants, a Guide to Wildlife Food Habits, reprint edition. Dover Publications, Garden City, New York. 500 pp.
    • Milne, L.J., and M. Milne. 1975. Living plants of the world. Revised edition. Random House, New York. 336 pp.
    • Moore, M. 1993. Medicinal plants of the Pacific West. Red Crane Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 360 pp.
    • Mowrey, D.B. 1986. The scientific validation of herbal medicine. Cormorant Books, Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada. 316 pp.
    • Munz, P.A. and D.D. Keck. 1959. A California Flora. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
    • Norse, E.A. 1990. Ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. Island Press, Washington, DC.
    • Peck, M.E. 1961. A manual of the higher plants of Oregon. 2nd edition. Binsford & Mort, Portland, Oregon. 936 pp.
    • Prescott-Allen, C., and R. Prescott-Allen. 1986. The first resource: Wild species in the North American economy. Yale University Press, New Haven. 529 pp.
    • Rehder, A. 1927. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs Hardy in North America: Exclusive of the Subtropical and Warmer Temperate Regions. MacMillan Company, New York, New York. 930 p.
    • Schopmeyer, C.S. 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. U.S.D.A., U.S. Forest Serivice, Washington, D.C., 883 pp.
    • Sievers, A.F. 1930. The herb hunter's guide. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 77, Washington, D.C. Rhamnus purshiana
    • Small, E., and P.M. Catling. 1996. Poorly known economic plants of Canada - 11. Cascara, Rhamnus purshianus DC. Bull. Can. Bot. Assoc. 29: 58-59.
    • St. John, H. 1963. Flora of southeastern Washington and of adjacent Idaho. Outdoor Pictures, Escondido, CA. 583 pp.
    • Turner, N.J. 1997. Traditional ecological knowledge. Pages 275-298 in P.K. Schoonmaker, B. von Hagen and E.C. Wolf, eds., The rain forests of home: Profile of a North American bioregion. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
    • Tyler, V.E. 1995. Plant drugs, healing herbs, and phytomedicinals. In HerbalGram No. 33.
    • UpS. 1998. UpS "At Risk" Forum [including "At Risk List" and "To Watch List"]. United Plant Savers [UpS] Newsletter Volume 1, Number 2, Spring.
    • UpS. 1999. United Plant Savers "At Risk" Forum [including "At Risk List" and "To Watch List"]. United Plant Savers [UpS] Newsletter, Summer.
    • USFS. 1963. Cascara bark. Pages 38-39 in Special forest products for profit: Self-help suggestions for rural areas development. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 276.
    • Vance, N.C., M. Borsting, D. Pilz, and J. Freed. 2001. Special forest products: Species information guide for the Pacific Northwest. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-513. UDSA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon.
    • Veninga, L. and Zaricor, B. 1976. Goldenseal/Etc: A Pharmacognosy of Wild Herbs. Ruka Publications, Santa Cruz.
    • VMRC. 1999. VMRC Annual Report 1997-1998: Research Studies. Plant Autecology Literature Review & Autecology Manuals: R. Rose, C.C.E. Chachulski and J.S. Ketchum, Autecology of common problematic plants in young Northwest forests. Three volumes. Vegetation Management Research Cooperative [VMRC]. In preparation.
    • Yocom, C.F. and V. Brown. 1971. Wildlife and plants of the Cascades, covering most of the common wildlife and plants of the Pacific Northwest and the area of the lava beds. Naturegraph Publishers, Healdsburg, California. 286 p.
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Cascara False Buckthorn — Frangula purshiana.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from