Buckthorn is an invasive plant, which spreads rapidly in Minnesota woodlands. It is a nuisance to the natural environment, crowding out native plants that provide food and habitat for birds and wildlife, and taking over the woodland understory by shading out groundcover plants, causing soil erosion that damages lakeshores. Buckthorn has no local natural controls--insects or disease--that restricts its spread.
The city recommends that homeowners remove buckthorn on their property, which is typically a multi-year process. Because buckthorn berries are appealing to birds and small mammals, they spread the plant across woodlands. Once in the ground, seeds can be dormant for up to six years. The city has two buckthorn pullers or "weed wrenches," a manual tool used to lift and pull buckthorn by its roots, available for loan to homeowners. Reserve a weed wrench online.
Buckthorn is a tall shrub or small tree up to 20 feet high. The easiest way to identify buckthorn is by its leaves. They remain stubbornly green in the autumn, long after other trees and plants have lost their leaves. Native cherry and plum trees share similar characteristics with buckthorn, and the mature black cherry tree is its most common look-alike.
Glossy Buckthorn Flowers
Glossy Buckthorn Fruit
Glossy Buckthorn Leaves
Common Buckthorn Flowers
Common Buckthorn Fruit
Common Buckthorn Leaves
|Smooth gray to dark, scaly gray
||Gray to brown with white lenticels
||Small, yellow-green, four-petaled
||Small greenish-white, five-petaled
||Shiny black berries (female plants in August/September
||Red berries turn black in late summer
||Dark, glossy with small-toothed edges
||Dark glossy leaves
Buckthorn on City Property
The City of Victoria is working on a process and policy for buckthorn removal on City-owned property. If you are aware of buckthorn on any city-owned lands, please contact Public Works Director Dave Shoger.
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture, buckthorn management
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, buckthorn identification and control
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, buckthorn look-alike plants
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Buckthorn: What You Should Know. What Can You Do. (PDF)