How To Fight Back Against Buckthorn

by | May 2024

Common Buckthorn leaves and berries.  This is an evasive species in Southeastern Wisconsin. The selective focus is on a bunch of the berries in October.  The wild plant takes over the woods.

iStock/Tony Savino

Most of us are looking forward to relaxing in the yard with friends and family. But with the beauty comes the beast—viral plant invasive species.

Here are ways you can take an active approach to keeping trespassing plants out.


The first step is finding invasive plants. Buckthorn’s life cycle kills native trees including your favorite oaks, maples and pines. It also gives birds diarrhea and poisons fish. Garlic mustard chokes native species by producing chemicals that change soil composition. This inhibits normal growth of plants and helps garlic mustard to reseed by the thousands. Japanese Barberry is one of the top host plants for ticks.


For buckthorn removal, use a shovel or rent one from the Edina Public Works department. Removal is a marathon and will require multiple passes.

Nonpoisonous removal for mid-size/larger stumps:

  1. Cut down, leave 4 to 8” above ground, seal in dark plastic/duct tape.
  2. Cut down, leave 4 to 8” above ground, let new growth reach 12 to 18 inches.
  3. Repeat cutting several times to weaken and eventually kill the plant.

Spending time on your yard is part of the home ownership bargain—make it count so you can enjoy it for years to come. See you outside.

Maire Katyal is co-president of the Normandale Garden Club, part of the Edina Garden Council. Grow more at


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