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  • Troy Kuphal

Best time of year to remove buckthorn

As winter approaches, you may think your outdoor projects are done for the year, but if you have buckthorn removal on your list of chores, late fall and early winter are great times to get it done. Why bother taking the time to remove buckthorn? There are many reasons this invasive, non-native shrub is better taken out than left to take over our native woodlands.


  • Out-competes native plants for nutrients, light, and moisture

  • Degrades important wildlife habitat and food sources

  • Can host pests, such as crown rust fungus and soybean aphids

  • Contributes to erosion by out-competing plants on the forest floor that help hold soil in place

  • Forms an impenetrable, messy layer of vegetation

  • Seeds can stay viable in the soil for up to three years

How do you know if you have buckthorn on your property? The characteristics of buckthorn include:

  • Egg-shaped leaves that stay green into late fall (even after all other trees have lost their leaves)

  • Large, round berry-like clusters of black ¼-inch fruit (on female trees)

  • Bark is brown with elongate silvery corky projections, similar to native plums or cherries.

  • Cut branch exposes yellow sapwood and orange heartwood

  • Heights of up to 25 feet tall


Removal Recommendations:

  • Remove small seedlings by hand or with “Uprooter”

  • Spray foliage of short buckthorn or seedlings with herbicide

  • Cut buckthorn 2’ in diameter or more at soil surface and treat stump with herbicide

  • Follow-up buckthorn control in areas where you have previously removed buckthorn

  • Monitor areas that are relatively buckthorn-free and control buckthorn plants right away if detected

  • Re-plant native trees and shrubs in areas where buckthorn has been removed

Replacement trees and shrubs can be purchased through the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District. Visit

If you want to learn more about invasive species removal or replacement trees and shrubs, contact Alyssa Alness at the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District in Jordan at (952) 492-5425.

Some information adapted from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web article


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