All over town people are discovering the threat buckthorn poses to our woods and wetlands – especially to the oaks and maples that made up the “Big Woods” that covered much of Plymouth before settlement. Buckthorn is a shallow-rooted plant that out-competes other plants. It creates a monoculture that is less effective at protecting lakes, steams and wetlands from soil erosion than the plants it replaces.
Buckthorn’s black berries replace other food sources for birds. The berries have a laxative effect that further promotes the plant’s spread and turns the birds’ messy droppings into a nuisance.
Buckthorn’s grip on the region’s natural areas poses a colossal challenge for mapping a control strategy. The best hope lies in enlisting the efforts of property owners and concerned citizens in the fight. Their arsenal includes both mechanical and chemical methods.
Small plants can be pulled from moist ground by hand. Larger plants can be treated chemically by cutting and treating the stump with a glyphosate herbicide like Roundup (carefully follow product instructions). They can also be pulled out using a tool designed for removing shrubs. Plymouth has several of these tools available for residents to borrow. Call Parks & Forestry at 763-509-5940 to reserve one.