This website was created in 2011 to help educate and coordinate buckthorn removal events at parks and woodlands in Plymouth, Minnesota. The success of these “Buckthorn Busts” was incredible. The bike trails in some of these woods were over grown with buckthorn. The kids literally could not use them anymore. Residents could not walk their dogs through these trails. Now the woods and trails are bustling with activity again. The goal of this website is to create an educational resource that will expand far beyond the borders of Plymouth, Minnesota. New videos, check lists, and information will be added on a regular basis.
When pioneers first introduced buckthorn to Minnesota in the 1800s, they thought it would thrive as a hedge. It did thrive. But settlers had no idea the invasive plant would crowd out native species and virtually take over forests and parks.
Nurseries stopped selling buckthorn by the 1930s, but the plant still thrives today in parkland and back yards. Buckthorn acts like a bully, rapidly taking over the forest floor and pushing out desired native species, like dogwoods or oaks.
A Plymouth volunteer is doing something about it. Dave Turbenson moved to Plymouth because he was attracted to area parks and woodlands.
"When I moved to Plymouth ten years ago, one of the reasons I moved here was the parks and trails and woods," said Turbenson. "Over the last ten years the woods near my house have slowly been overrun by buckthorn."
Now, Turbenson says the growth is so thick in places that runners cannot run the paths and his kids can't ride their bikes down the trails.
"I decided to make a stand and start cutting buckthorn," said Turbenson.
You'll find him leading other volunteers or taking off to nearby Oakwood Park to remove the invasive species. He carefully demonstrates the proper two-step method for removing the plant. First cut it down and then apply a concentrated herbacide to the freshly cut stump.
"We need to kill this buckthorn. If I don't treat with herbicide, there will be five or more sprouts coming out of this stump," said Turbenson.
The most common mistake people make when eradicating bucktorn from their yard is failing to apply the herbicide. That only causes the buckthorn to reproduce and grow back in larger numbers.
Buckthorn has opposite leaf and bud arrangement and has thorns. The females have berries that turn dark in the fall. Turbenson recommends cutting down female plants with berries to prevent the spread of buckthorn.
"If everyone would just cut down five big female plants, if everybody did that we would slow the buckthorn level down dramatically," said Turbenson, who also shares buckthorn and other invasive species tips on his website, www.removebadplants.com
Lara Newberger, forestry technician with the city of Plymouth, agrees. She can help organize a 'buckthorn bust' at an area park or help direct you to an area of the city that needs to eradicate buckthorn.
"Volunteers are critical in our struggle against buckthorn. We just don't have the resources to get everywhere," said Newberger.
The best time to cut down buckthorn is in the fall, because the plants are easily identifiable. They lose their leaves a few weeks after native species.
For more information on scheduling a buckthorn bust, contact Lara Newberger at 763-509-5945.
The best time to cut and chemically treat buckthorn in the Midwest is August through November. During these months the sap is flowing back down to the root zone. Cutting and treating buckthorn during these months will result in a higher kill rate. The herbicide that is applied to the freshly cut stump is absorbed and is sucked back down to the roots. Now is the time to start talking to neighbors and organized groups in your area. Groups you should contact include cub scouts, boy scouts, girl scouts, local businesses and churches. Everyone knows their local parks and woodlands are infested with buckthorn.
Coordinating buckthorn removal events can be a challenging task. To make sure you have a successful event encourage your volunteers to bring any of the suggested equipment and supplies. Bring extra items if you can for others to use.