What is buckthorn? If you are an environmental or outdoor enthusiast, you may know that this invasive plant is a threat to our environment and to other desirable, native species of plants and trees in Illinois and surrounding areas. Buckthorn is a major contributor to ecosystem change and instability throughout our region. The Lake County Forest Preserves (LCFP) have included buckthorn eradication as a key conservation goal in their 100-Year vision, aiming to "eliminate buckthorn from all preserves through restoration and management, and reduce buckthorn by 50 percent throughout Lake County," according to the Winter 2016, quarterly newsletter 'Horizon'. We are proud to be a participating, contracted partner with the LCFP, as the successful bidder on three buckthorn eradication projects this winter and we hope to continue their vision on other public and private projects as well.
There are over 100 species of buckthorn, 12 of which are native to North America alone. It grows in thick strands, leafs early and retains leaves late in to the fall, which creates dense shade that helps it to outcompete many native plants. Birds are the main transporter of buckthorn seeds. They will eat the berries (which cause diarrhea), spreading the seeds to other areas. Here are a few ways you can identify buckthorn on your property:
- Buckthorn is a shrub or small tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall.
- Buckthorn gets its name from the spiny branches and buds often resemble a buck’s hoof.
- Fruits appear July-September; each berry contains 3-4 seeds.
- Oval, shiny leaves have prominent veins and a slight curving tip. One-to 4 – inch leaves grow in an alternate (sometimes alternate) pattern.
- Leaves bud before most other plants, early in the spring and will often still be green through the fall and sometimes even in to December.
If you think you might have this invasive plant on your property, give us a call. We will help you identify and propose to remove it. We can also help you replant desirable plants and trees once the buckthorn has been eliminated. Give us a call, and help in the goal of buckthorn eradication.