Buckthorn Could be plaguing your Minnesota Back Yard

Have a backyard Buckthorn problem?  Throughout the Northern Midwest, we find more and more invasive Buckthorn making for drab backyard views.  In fall we want to look out on our backyards and see the fiery reds, brilliant golds and majestic oranges of changing leaves. If we have predominantly, green and late turning Buckthorn in or landscapes, we will not only miss the colorful autumn but will have an inhospitable, thorny landscape filled with an aggressive and non-native plant species.

As you’ve heard us discuss before, one of the tenants of low-maintenance landscape design is to create an environment that is predominately planted with native plants, trees and shrubs.  Well, the quick growing, thorny Buckthorn is anything but native to Eastern Wisconsin and Western Minnesota.  In fact, it is categorized as a noxious weed in Minnesota and according to the Minnesota department of natural resources, “it is illegal to import, sell or transport Buckthorn in Minnesota.” Our advice to you, is if you think you may have a Buckthorn problem, that is more than one Buckthorn tree hanging around your backyard, take care to remove the infiltrator quickly!  No use waiting around to have him leave quietly, soon he will invite all his friends and these non-native tree squatters will choke out your lovely small oaks and native aspens.

How to spot

This photo found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, gives us an idea of what Buckthorn looks like.

Buckthorn from the MN-DNR


European or Common Buckthorn:  This is the most widespread and problematic of the Buckthorn found in Minnesota.  John Moriarty helps us out by describing this type of Buckthorn as having “small alternate simple leaves, black berries and a flaky bark.”  They also have short side thorns.  Hmm…must be a defense mechanism since they are so unwanted.   It’s a good think it’s fall, because now is the easiest time to spot these critters, as they take much longer than others to change color and will stay green throughout much of the fall months.

If you think you might have a Buckthorn problem beginning in your yard, let us know.  Give one of our St. Croix Valley Landscaping designers a call; we’d be happy to stop by for a free consultation!

Resources: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn/index.html

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