Every fall, Friends of Diamond Lake “busts” buckthorn by removing plants from the lakeshore. But why?
Buckthorn was originally brought to Minnesota from Europe for use as a hedging plant. However, it was quickly discovered that these invasive plants could easily spread to natural areas through wildlife transport of seed. Invasive species crowd native plants, stripping them of sunlight and nutrients. Loss of native plants affects the habitat of birds, turtles, and other wildlife native to Diamond Lake.
Buckthorn also threatens agriculture in Minnesota. The soybean aphid uses buckthorn as a host in the winter by laying eggs in its branch crevices. After the springtime hatch, aphids gain easy access to Minnesota croplands.
Vigilance pays off!
FoDL volunteer efforts to date have been successful at keeping buckthorn in check, so in 2016, efforts will also include removal of invasive honeysuckle and grapevines.
More information is available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
Autumn buckthorn busts are common in natural areas around the city and the state, because buckthorn often maintains green leaves longer than other plants, making it easier to identify. Buckthorn is best controlled by manual removal (pulling) and herbicides. Cutting buckthorn plants without herbicide application promotes regrowth.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service provides recommendations for buckthorn control.
Article contributed by Erin Surdo