When you are doing your spring clean up keep an eye out for these sneaky invasive woody plants! This is the European Buckthorn it is highly invasive and is very quickly taking over our urban landscape. Some of the key I.D. features in the spring are displayed above. They are also one of the first to leaf out in the spring and one of the last to drop it’s leaves in the fall. These pesky little buggers seem to show up over night and can turn into a problem that is very hard to get rid of once they grow larger. They are often found on property lines, in hedge rows, through fences and pretty much anywhere you find other trees growing. When birds and squirrels eat the berries they are very quickly distributed. Where you find one buckthorn you will find many, and that is the problem. When walking along our trails and woodlots you will see the distinct features of the buckthorn sticking out… did I mention they have thorns? Well they do!! I have removed many of these from properties over the years and those thorns are lethal. These shrubs grow at an accelerated rate and tend to choke out the native understory species. They tend to increase the levels of nitrogen in the soil making it more suitable for them and not so suitable for the other species growing around them. They usually grow to be 5-6 ft tall but given the chance and right conditions they can grow well beyond that.
If you see these shrubs on your property, if they are small enough, pull them out. If it has gotten the chance to get larger then they will need to be cut out and the stump treated or ground out, because they will grow back! When disposing of them, the best option is to burn them, however that is not always an option in the city. You can put the plant in the compost or yard waste bag but the berries or fruit need to me remove and put in the waste receptacle.
Once removed it is wise to plant a native species in it place, so there is no opportunity for another buckthorn to take its place. If you need help with removal or would just like us to help you identify a possible problem with an invasive species, please contact us. We are happy to help!