One of the most serious threats to natural areas is found in many back yards, neighborhood green spaces, and local parks. Common or European Buckthorn and Glossy Buckthorn have become so pervasive that they are now the dominant understory plants in many forest areas. Find out how to control them.
Common Buckthorn takes over
Common Buckthorn was brought to the New World in the late 1800's as an ornamental plant and a windbreak. Since then, it has occupied a range that stretches from New England to Missouri, crowding out native plants that wildlife relies on.
How Invasive Buckthorn Spreads
It's hard to find a more clever method for an invasive plant to take over a whole ecosystem. Common and Glossy Buckthorn grow lovely, black berries that attract birds and mice. The berries contain a powerful laxative. So, where the critters go, so go new Buckthorn seeds. The system works all too well.
Hand-Pull Young Buckthorn Plants Buckthorns often grow in thick stands, shading out everything else. Wait for a day when the soil is a little damp, and then pull out the small ones. Bigger plants can also be pulled out with tools designed for the purpose.
Cut Down Bigger Buckthorns
Cut larger bushes as close to the ground as you can, and then cover the stumps with black plastic to prevent re-growth. Left uncovered, the stumps will quickly re-sprout.
Controlling the Largest Buckthorns
Common Buckthorn can grow to 20 feet high. When they're that big, cut them down close to the ground. Drive four or five holes into the freshly cut stump and immediately pour undiluted Roundup® Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate Plus into the holes.
Replant and Revisit
Once you've removed buckthorns, plant something beneficial to keep them from growing back. Chokeberries, dogwoods, and serviceberry trees are terrific understory plants that look good and help feed and shelter wild birds. Also, since buckthorn seeds can live a long time, keep an eye out for any young sprouts that pop up in the spring.
Common Buckthorn, honeysuckle bushes, and other invasive plants are commonly located in parks and public spaces. Local municipalities often don't have the funds to pay for removal. Get some friends together and organize a Buckthorn removal effort. Parks and green spaces will look better, and natural plants will have a chance to grow back.