Mediterranean buckthorn (Eng), aladierno, carrasquilla, aladierna, ladierna, sanguino (Spa), aladern, llampuga (Cat), burrubiote, guirguirio (Baq), alaterno, carrasquilla, sanguiño (Glg), aderno-bastardo (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? The inflight magazine of a well-known Spanish airline is called ‘Aladierno’ (the Spanish name for the Mediterranean buckthorn), referring to the regional nature of the company and the plant.
The Mediterranean buckthorn is a very variable branching shrub. It can be prostrate, or rise just an inch from soil, or attain a tree-like form up to 8 m in height. The trunk is smooth and grey in young specimens, but in adults it cracks and is reminiscent of that of holm oaks. The leaves are leathery, persistent, simple and alternate, distinguishing it from the mock privet (Phillyrea latifolia), which has opposite leaves, and which may be confused with this species because of its ecology, general appearance, leaf shape, and fruit. Not including the stalk, the leaves are 8-60 mm wide, sometimes reaching 80 mm, and 8-50 mm long. They are lanceolate, oval, sometimes obovate or almost orbicular in shape. They have 1-5 pairs of very visible secondary nerves and sometimes present hairs at the base, tip and nerves, unlike the subspecies munyozgarmendiae Rivas Mart. & J.M. Pizarro. The upper side is dark green, sometimes greyish, glossy or matt. The underside is usually a light green or yellowish colour and matt, and sometimes has dark, rust-coloured marks on. The margin can be toothed (although the quantity, arrangement, size and shape of teeth varies greatly), serrated (with soft points), or even entire. The leaves are hairless, or have hairs only at the base of the blade, tip and on the nerves. The flowers appear in clusters between March and April. They have four petals and are tiny, yellowish-green in colour and very fragrant. The fruits measure about 5 mm in diameter, are rounded, with two or three lightly scored grooves. They are also hairless, fleshy and red in colour, turning black when ripe. They are prized by birds.
This species grows on the borders and in clearings of forests of holm oaks, Portuguese oaks, kermes oaks, and pines, in sandy coastal areas, hedgerows, Mediterranean scrub, juniper groves, rocky outcrops, quarries, and so on, as long as there is sufficient moisture and shade. It is indifferent to substrate type and grows from sea level up to altitudes of around 1300 m.
This plant is typical of southern Europe, Mediterranean islands, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, western Libya, the Maghreb, Crimea and Macaronesia (Gran Canaria). It inhabits much of the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands, although it is absent or rare in the northwest quadrant and in the high Pyrenees, Cantabrian mountains, and Iberian and Central mountain systems.