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Buckthorn management

Help us protect and treat our community from invasive species!

Buckthorn 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.

The city has been working to control buckthorn in our parks for more than 20 years. Moving to the future, our priority parks will be based off the priorities in the Natural Resource Management Plan.

Identifying Buckthorn

Common buckthorn

Common buckthorn is 10-25 feet tall, has an oval form and stands upright. It tends to live in dry areas such as woodlands, savannas, abandoned fields, roadsides. It will grow in both full sun and in shade.

The leaves are egg-shaped, dark green, dull to glossy; with finely tooth edges; 3-5 pair of curved leaf veins. Leaves stay dark green and on the tree late into fall.

Green leafy plant

Common buckthorn

Glossy buckthorn

Glossy buckthorn is 10-18 feet tall, has an oval form and stands upright. it tends to live in primarily wet areas (bogs, marshes, riverbanks, wetlands, pond edges), but also will grow in dry areas. It will grow in both full sun and in shade.

The leaves are oval, smooth, dark, glossy, with toothless edges; 8-9 pair of leaf veins. Leaves stay green late into fall.

Glossy green plant with red berries

Buckthorn is an invasive species that prevalent throughout the community – How can I help control or remove 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 loans out weed wrenches at no cost. To borrow a wrench, call the Forestry Division at 763-493-8126. 
  • 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.

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.

Disposal

After removal, plants can be cut into 4-foot lengths, bundled and set out for your weekly yard waste collection with your garbage hauler

 Removed plants can also be brought to the Maple Grove yard waste site for free disposal.

Maple Grove yard waste site

10300 Maple Grove Parkway N.
Maple Grove, MN 55369
View map and directions to Maple Grove Yardwaste Site

Hours

Open from April 1 to November 30, weather permitting
Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.

Phone and email

763-420-4886
Email Maple Grove Yardwaste

Questions?

If you have questions, contact our City Forester.

Mike Carhill
City Forester
Phone number: 763-493-8126
Send email

More information

Additional buckthorn information and resources can also be found at:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources >