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woody shrub or small tree, of the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae), native to western Asia, Europe, and northern Africa. It has been introduced into North America and other regions, where it is often cultivated as an ornamental. The plant grows rapidly, reaching a height of 5.5 m (about 18 feet); its dark, dense, and lustrous foliage turns yellow in autumn. The alternate, rather oval leaves are 3.75-6 cm (1 12-2 12 inches) long. Small, white flowers are borne in clusters of 2 to 10. The small fruit turns from red to black. Tallhedge buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula 'Columnaris') is a horticultural variety grown for its low maintenance and upright form