Buckthorn Solutions

History of Buckthorn

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) were introduced to Minnesota in the 1880s as an ornamental shrub. Its native origins are to Eurasia. Both species are extremely adaptable to our Minnesota climate. Today, Common and Glossy Buckthorn is found throughout much of Minnesota. These plants are invading wetlands, woodlands, prairies, river valleys, agricultural lands and your neighborhood.

Why is Buckthorn so invasive?

  • They have a growing season 58 days longer that our native plant species.
  • Their seeds can lay dormant in the soil for six years.
  • Their seeds and fruit contain aleopathic chemicals that inhibits native vegetation growing nearby.
  • Their seeds can germinate in full sun or shady locations.
  • Buckthorn seeds can float on water for a week and remain viable.
  • They have no natural herbivores.
  • Buckthorn re-sprouts vigorously after basal pruning.

Reasons to remove buckthorn:

Buckthorn Kills Native Plants! Native plants cannot naturally compete with Buckthorn. Both Buckthorns are found in many forest understories, wetlands, prairies, river valleys. Native plants are our songbird’s natural food source. When Buckthorn is all that remains, the birds eat the Buckthorn berries.

Buckthorn Kills Songbirds! When native plants disappear from an area where Buckthorn is dense, birds eat the berries of Buckthorn. However, the fruit of Buckthorn causes a severe, laxative reaction in the birds. Hence the name cathartica, latin for laxative. If Buckthorn berries are the only source of berries in an area, the birds will eat the berries, excrete, eat berries excrete, repeatedly until they become dehydrated and weak.

Replace Buckthorn with native plants.

These are excellent plants for sites that have light to partial shade. Add beauty, diversity, and natural food sources for songbirds to your woodland area.

Shrubs – small to medium size

Scientific Name / Common Name

Aronia melanocarpa / Glossy Black Chokeberry
Diervilla lonicera / Bush Honeysuckle
Ribes americanum / Black Currant
Ribes cynosbati / Pasture Gooseberry
Ribes missouriensis / Missouri Gooseberry
Rubus occidentalis / Black Raspberry
Rubus parviflorus / Thimbleberry
Symphoricarpos alba / White Snowberry

Shrubs – medium to large size

Scientific Name / Common Name

Amelanchier alnifolia / Saskatoon Serviceberry
Cephalanthus occidentalis / Buttonbush
Cornus racemosa / Gray Dogwood
Corylus americana / American Hazelnut
Corylus cornuta / Beaked Filbert
Hamamelis virginianav / Witch Hazel
Sambucus canadensis / Elderberry
Sambucus pubens / Red-berried Elder
Staphylea triflorata / American Bladdernut
Viburnum lentago / Nannyberry
Viburnum trilobum / American High Bush Cranberry


Scientific Name / Common Name

Acer spicatum / Mountain Maple
Alnus rugosa / Speckled Alder
Amlelanchier arborea / Downy Serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis / Allegheny Serviceberry
Carpinus caroliniana / American Hornbeam/Blue Beech
Cornus alternifolia / Pagoda Dogwood
Euonymus atropurpurea / Eastern Wahoo
Prunus virginiana / Common Chokecherry
Thuja occidentalis / Eastern White Cedar

Scroll to Top