Botanical name: 

Spina cervina.

Also see Black alder.

A PRICKLY shrub, common in our hedges, with pale green leaves, and black berries. It grows to eight or ten feet high. The bark is dark coloured and glossy, and the twigs are tough. The leaves are oval, of a very regular and pretty figure, and elegantly dented round the edges. The flowers are little, and inconsiderable; they are of a greenish yellow, and grow in little clusters. The berries, which are ripe in September, are round, glossy, black, as big as the largest pepper-corns, and contain each three or four seeds.

The juice of the berries, boiled up with sugar, makes a good purge; but it is apt to gripe, unless some spice be added in the making: It is a rough purge, but a very good one.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.