Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 6, 2000
Time to get rid of European buckthorn
By Curt Levang
European buckthorn is a bush-like tree brought to the United States from Europe. It was not a welcome plant in Minnesota.
Its long growing season causes the plant to grow well into the fall season and crowd out native species. The seeds are spread by hungry birds who would have preferred other food not available in early winter.
One of European buckthorn's main identifying characteristics is that the leaves remain green long after other native trees and bushes have shed theirs in October.
The second characteristic is a cluster of black berries resembling choke cherries also visible in September and November. Once you start studying the plant during October and November you will be able to recognize it any time of the year.
The only way to control its growth in wooded areas and fence lines is to chop down the brush-like tree, splinter the stump and spray the stump with vegetation killer. Destroy any branches on which there are seeds. Spraying smaller bushes with vegetation killer is effective because they also spread by root runners.
There is no danger of mis-identifying the European buckthorn with choke cherries during October and November as the choke cheery plant will be leafless and the berries long gone.
It is interesting to note the difference in the berry clusters. The European buckthorn berry stem grows from a central point in a fan shaped cluster, or singly.
The choke cherry grows on either side of an elongated stem, more like a grape. There are also several flattened seeds inside the buckthorn, rather than one stone like the cherry.
Now is the time to take a quick survey of the edge of any wooded area or fence lines and get busy. You won't recognize this savage invader once it loses its leaves, or next spring when everything is green again.
For further information or help in identifying the European buckthorn, call (320) 543-2307.
One of my neighbors has a European buckthorn growing by his front door. They are attractive, but so is poison ivy.
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