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SLELO PRISM

Glossy and Common Buckthorn

Glossy & Common Buckthorn  ( Frangula alnus, Rhamnus cathartica) are small trees or shrubs native to Eurasia. They produce pea-sized fruits that  depending on the species change colors as they ripen from green to red to dark purple or black.

Impacts

Buckthorn species produce dense thickets that shade out herbaceous ground species and wildflowers, thus reducing biodiversity. Buckthorn species may also provide shelter for invasive agricultural pests and pathogens like soybean aphids and oak crown rust (view a video to learn more). Buckthorn berries are easily spread long distances by birds and cause a laxative effect on wildlife that ingest them ( which helps in seed dispersal).

Habitat:  woodland edges with full sun to heavy shade, fens. Most aggressive in wet soil but also found in dryer areas.

Identification:

Leaves: Common buckthorn leaves are hairless, have toothed edged and curved veins (left two); while glossy buckthorn leaves have fine hairs, smooth edges and parallel veins (right two).

                                    glossy-vs-common-buckthorn

Flowers:  Common buckthorn has small yellowish green flowers with 4 petals (top photo); glossy buckthorn has small white flowers with 5 petals (bottom photo). Blooms in late May.

                                                    common-buckthorn-flowers

                 glossy-flowers

Fruit: Common buckthorn has black fruit (top) and glossy buckthorn progressively ripen from red – dark purple (bottom). Fruit are pea-sized, and develop early June through September.  The seeds remain viable in the soil for two to three years.

                                                                     common-fruit-from-brochure
                                                                      glossy-fruit-from-borchure   

Bark:  gray or brown with prominent, closely spaced, often elongated light-colored lenticels. Below is a photo showing buckthorn bark compared to the bark of  a common look-a-like black cherry.

                                    buckthorn-bark-comparrison

Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)
Glossy Buckthorn is a small tree or shrub native to Eurasia.  It is very aggressive in wet areas.  It produces dense shade that eliminates other trees and ground species.
Habitat:  Woodland edges full sun to heavy shade.  Fens, most aggressive in wet soil but also found in dryer areas.
Flowers:  Small pale yellow, 5 petals, 1 to 8 flowers clustered in leaf axils.  Blooms late May to first frost.
Fruit:  progressively ripen from red to dark purple.  Pea sized.  Develop early June through September.  The seeds remain viable in the soil for two to three years.
Bark:  Gray or brown with prominent closely spaced often elongated light colored lenticels.
Control:  The most effective control is the removal of plants before they go to fruit.  When a large number of Buckthorn seedlings are present, control burning can be used.  Late fall is the ideal time for chemical control because most native plants are dormant at that time and the chemicals are easily drawn down to the roots with the natural sap flow.  Cut-stump treatment using 20 – 25% A.I. Glyphosate or 12.5% A.I. Triclopyr has been effective.

 

Control/Management:

A combination of the control methods below will likely be required. Be sure to follow all herbicide labels. Buckthorn seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to 5 years so monitor the removal site annually and remove saplings immediately.  
 

Manual Control: Before you dig learn if there are utility lines underground. If the plant is less than 3/8 inch in diameter it can be removed by hand. Small seedlings will not resprout if removed by hand. For plants larger than 3/8 inch hand tools such as an “Uprooter” or “Root Talon” will make removal easier. Hand pulling roots will disrupt other plants growing in the removal area. Take care to replace desired plants that are uprooted.

Controlled Burning: Effective for large stands in grasslands or savanna habitats. Burns will need to be done every two to three years and will require permits. 

Mechanical:  Cutting any time will cause re-sprouting unless followed by herbicide application.

Chemical: Foliar treatment-spray leaves in fall with glyphosate (when native plants are leafless) in temperatures above freezing. Late fall is the ideal time to treat bucktorn,because most native plants are leafless at that time, and  chemicals are easily drawn toward the roots with the natural sap flow as plants prepare for winter dormacy.

Basal bark treatment-apply triclopyr or 2,4-D to uncut stems.

Cut-stump treatments– cut stems near soil & immediately apply glyphosate or triclopyr to the exposed vascular tissue (fall is the best time to apply chemical treatments).

For a chemical-free option, cover the stump with a black bag zip-tied to the stump. Bags can be purchased

Disposal: To avoid seed dispersal, it is best to leave noxious weeds on-site. If material must be removed, contact yard waste facilities to see if they accept noxious weeds. Or burn the plant material on-site if possible. 

Restoration: After removing buckthorn, it is important to reintroduce native plants to the removal site. This not only helps to keep buckthorn from reestablishing itself, but it also helps regenerate the natural habitat. The Department of Environmental Conservation has a great list of native plants for gardening and landscaping that can be viewed online.

Consider Native Alternatives

For More Information

Photo Credits: Photo collage: top left, top right, Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org, bottom left and right leaves, Megan Pistolese-SLELO PRISM,  thorns and sapwood, Michigan Nature GuyCommon buckthorn flower: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/trees/plants/cm_buckthorn.htm.Glossy buckthorn flower: National Parks Service, http://nps.eddmaps.org/species.cfm?sub=5649. Bark: Minnesota Wildflowers Field Guide,  https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/shrub/glossy-buckthorn.

 

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PREVENTION
Prevent the introduction of invasive species into the SLELO PRISM.

EARLY DETECTION & RAPID RESPONSE
Rapidly detect new and recent invaders and eliminate all individuals within a specific area.

COOPERATION
Share resources, including funding personnel, equipment, information, and expertise.

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
Collect, utilize, and share information regarding surveys, infestations, control methods, monitoring, and research.

CONTROL
Control invasive species infestations by using best management practices, methods and techniques to include: ERADICATION (which is to eliminate all individuals and the seed bank from an area), CONTAINMENT (which is reducing the spread of established infestations from entering an uninfested area) and SUPPRESSION which is to reduce the density but not necessarily the total infested area.

RESTORATION
Develop and implement effective restoration methods for areas that have been degraded by invasive species and where suppression or control has taken place.

EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Increase public awareness and understanding of invasive species.

INNOVATION
Develop and implement innovative technologies that help us to better understand, visualize, alleviate or manage invasive species and their impacts or that serve to strengthen ecosystem function and/or processes.

Rob Williams                              rwilliams@tnc.org                     PRISM Coordinator

Megan Pistolese megan.pistolese@tnc.org
Outreach and Education

Brittney Rogers brittney.rogers@tnc.org 
Aquatic Invasive Species

Robert Smith       robert.l.smith@tnc.org 
Terrestrial Invasive Species

Zachary Simek    zachary.simek@TNC.ORG     Conservation and GIS Analyst

During this time the best way to contact our team is via email.

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