Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article
Rhamnaceae A cosmopolitan family of trees and shrubs that have simple leaves and flowers borne in loose clusters. The flowers have their parts in fours or fives, the stamens being opposite the petals, and the 2–4-celled ovary forms a berry in the fruit. A dye (sap-green) has been obtained from Rhamnus catharticus (buckthorn); and Frangula alnus (alder buckthorn) has been used for making high-quality charcoal for gunpowder. Other members of the family are used as purgatives. Modern classifications recognize 58 genera, with 875 species.