Buckthorn Management

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buckthorn plantBuckthorn is an invasive, non-native plant species that threatens Minnesota's natural resources. It spreads very quickly and out-competes native plants for nutrients, light and moisture. It can also degrade wildlife habitat, serve as a host for pests and contribute to erosion, among other things.

As a non-native plant, buckthorn is not used by wildlife for nourishment or habitat and interferes with natural ecosystems.

How is the city managing buckthorn?

To help manage the spread buckthorn, the city has created a Buckthorn Management Program for city properties, primarily parks, where the majority of buckthorn is found. The management plan is broken into three distinct management objectives:

  1. Eradication parks – minimal to no buckthorn infestation
  2. Control parks – higher, but manageable buckthorn infestation
  3. Low-priority parks – extremely infested, management efforts are impractical

The focus and emphasis of the buckthorn management program is on the eradication and control parks.

Residential buckthorn removal

The city encourages residents to remove buckthorn from their yards. By leaving it in your yard, particularly the female, berry-producing plants, there is a greater chance of it spreading through your neighborhood.

If you are unsure what buckthorn looks like, the city offers free consultations to help you identify it.

When to remove

Fall (through winter) is the best time to remove buckthorn from your yard. During this timeframe, buckthorn leaves will be green while native plant leaves will have turned color or dropped to the ground, making it easier to distinguish between the two. Also, female buckthorn plants will keep their black berries well into early winter, providing another way to identify it.

How to remove

Buckthorn can be removed mechanically or chemically. With either option, the stump must be killed, or the plant will re-sprout and continue to grow.

  • Uproot/pull up the plant — Buckthorn can be pulled out by hand or with a weed wrench. Some hardware stores will rent out weed wrenches. The city also loans out weed wrenches at no cost for plants that are less than 1 inch in diameter. Contact Jean Zimmerman at 952.924.2562 for more information.

  • Cut stems to the ground and chemically treat them — Apply a chemical treatment to the stems, stump and exposed root flares soon after cutting them. The most common treatments are Glyphosate (Roundup) or Tryclopyamine (Ortho Brush B-Gon). Chemicals applied in the fall or winter months are effective because the plant is dormant, and the herbicide is transported to the root system.

After removal, plants can be cut into 4-foot lengths, bundled and set out for your weekly yard waste collection. Removed plants can also be brought to the brush drop-off site for free disposal.

Note: It is important to monitor and continue treating the area if needed since buckthorn seeds can remain viable for up to five years in the soil.

Resources

Visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website, for more information on buckthorn control or help identifying the plant visit.

Contact

Jim Vaughan, natural resources coordinator
952.924.2699
jvaughan@stlouispark.org