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Around the beginning of August each year, invasive European or "common" buckthorn (rhamnus cathartica) berries begin to ripen. As seen in these photos, the females produce dense clusters of fruit, which change from green to purplish black. Once the drupes are ripe, they are viable and ready to spread. Buckthorn colonizes by dropping its seeds straight down to form a thicket, and creates new infestations using birds. Unfortunately for the birds, there is no nutritional value in the berries, and it causes diarrhea, further ensuring its viability after digestion.

buckthorn berries and leaves

Once ripe, some berries can remain on the twig until the following spring, making it available to birds for more than half the year.

This is a good time to remove female buckthorn, because they are easy to identify, the unripe berries hang on better than ripe ones, and unripe berries do not cause purple staining on hard surfaces and equipment like the ripe ones.

If you would like help identifying, removing, or replacing buckthorn, or if you could use some guidance for your DIY project, please call 612-564-5771, email edsbuckthorncontrol@gmail.com, or submit a request on our website.

Garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata) is a harmless-looking menace that silently takes over the forest floor, much like buckthorn bullies the sub-canopy tier of the woods. In the spring to early summer, garlic mustard is flowering and developing seeds to spread before it dies at the end of its 2-year life. Chemicals can be used in the early spring and late fall, when it is the only green ground cover, and there is low risk of spraying desirable plants. Otherwise, the best control method is to uproot them by hand, destroy/dispose of the seed pods, and hang them, roots up, to dry out.

For more information about garlic mustard, please visit the MN DNR webpage: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/garlicmustard.html

DUE TO GARLIC MUSTARD SEASON, BUCKTHORN PROJECTS ARE ON HOLD UNTIL MID-JULY TO EARLY AUGUST. WE ARE TAKING NAMES FOR BUCKTHORN REMOVAL TO BE SCHEDULED AFTER GARLIC MUSTARD SEASON HAS ENDED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING!

Although the first day of spring has come and gone, and there is no visual evidence of winter ebbing, now is an important time for controlling buckthorn.

Common Buckthorn identification berries MN Rhamnus cathartica

Take out the mother aliens before the berries push off and multiply the problem!