City of Newport, MN

Recycling / Trash Hauling

Buckthorn

Waste & Recycling Disposal

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What to Throw & What to Buy

 

City of Newport
596 7th Avenue
Newport, MN 55055
Phone: (651) 459-5677
Fax: (651) 459-9883

Hours: Monday - Thursday
8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

BUCKTHORN

What is buckthorn?

Common, or European, buckthorn and glossy buckthorn are two non-native buckthorn species that can be found in Minnesota.  European buckthorn was first brought to the state in the mid-1800's, serving as a popular hedging material.  However, it escaped and became a nuisance plant, forming dense thickets in forests, yards, parks, and roadsides.  It crowded out native plants and displaced the native shrubs and small trees in the mid-layer of the forest where many species of birds nested.  Glossy buckthorn is sold by nurseries in two different forms, "Columnaris", which is narrow and tall, and "Aspenifolia", which grows up to 10 feet and has a ferny texture. 

Why is buckthorn problematic?

Buckthorn competes with native plants for nutrients, moisture, and light - and wins!  It threatens the future of forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats, which also degrades the habitat of wildlife.  Buckthorn contributes to erosion by shading out other plants that grow on the forest floor, and can serve as a host to other pests, such as crown rust fungus and soybean aphid.   

How to Rid Your Yard of Buckthorn:

You'd like to get rid of the buckthorn bushes that have invaded your yard, creating tangled undergrowth that crowd out native plants like dogwood and wild geranium, but how?  Cutting the plant down doesn't work - suckers sprout from the remaining stump. 

 

Rusty Smidt, Natural Resource Specialist for the Washington County Conservation District, discussed the buckthorn problem with the Newport Park Board at its February 12, 2008 meeting.  Rusty recommends two methods that he's found work nearly 100% of the time:

 

  • Weed Wrenches.  These devices pull bushes out by the roots.  They can be purchased from firms selling them via the Internet, or consider borrowing from the Washington County Conservation district with a refundable deposit.  The wrenches work best on plants with stem diameters up to two inches.  After the bushes are removed, either stomp down the disturbed soil around the hole, or fill it by planting a native such as dogwood, high-bush cranberry, or black chokeberry. 

  • Tin Cans.  Cut the buckthorn down, low to the ground.  Then press an empty tin can (open only at one end) over the top of the cut stump, pushing the can down into the soil a little way.  Use a tin can with a diameter that is two to three times bigger than that of the stump, sot here is room between the sides of the can and the stump.  As the cut stump sends up suckers, the suckers are trapped inside the tin can and die.  For best results, leave the tin can over the stump about three months.  (You can still recycle the cans when you no longer need them for buckthorn.)
Both of these methods can be used any time of the year.  A third method that is effective about 50-60% of the time is the use of chemicals. 

 

  • Chemicals.  Cut the buckthorn off low to the ground, and using a small, cheap paintbrush, paint the cut end of the stump with a chemical, such as Round-Up.  Increase the kill rate by cutting and applying to stumps in late fall, just before the bushes would have begun to drop their leaves.  Newer chemicals may be more powerful.  However, Round-Up tends to be better for the environment because it becomes inert very quickly upon coming into contact with soil.  Older buckthorn plants may reach the size of small trees.  If you are attempting to kill a plant of that size, drill small holes into the cut end of the stump and fill with a chemical such as Round-Up.

Rusty stressed the importance of replanting native plants in areas that have been cleared of buckthorn.  If new, desirable plants are not introduced, buckthorn may re-invade.

 

Click here for more information on buckthorn.