It can be efficiently handled at other times of the year, but it is best to avoid cutting or treating in the spring. Buckthorn leaves stay green in the fall after most other leaves have changed color or fallen, giving it a great time to identify buckthorn. Cut the buckthorn as near to the ground as possible and as flat as possible. The more damage that can be done to the plant before it reproduces, the better its chances of recovery.
Buckthorn grows in many different habitats, from dry fields to wooded areas. It can also be found along roadsides and in other exposed locations where it has good sunlight and no competition from other plants. This type of environment is usually not friendly to trees, but buckthorn loves to be alone so it's able to grow easily in these conditions.
Buckthorn gets its name from the shape of its fruit (similar to a small bush) which is brown when ripe and contains two black seeds inside. The fruit is toxic when raw, but can be eaten after it has been heated during cooking or processing.
People have used buckthorn for hundreds of years because it has many useful properties. Its thick bark is used for making fences, firewood, and charcoal. The root is edible and contains nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. The seed oil has been used for lighting and the wood is heavy and durable.
Buckthorn is recognized for its brilliant, glossy leaves that remain green late into the fall, when other native plants have turned grey. Other harmful consequences are caused by the leaves of buckthorn. They are extremely appealing to decomposers such as earthworms due to their high nitrogen and calcium content. This means that if you build a habitat with buckthorn, it will provide food and shelter for many insects.
Some species of buckthorn are used for food. The fruits are edible and contain large seeds. The inner bark can be used to make beer. The wood is hard and durable and is useful for tools, barrels, and furniture.
Buckthorn has several health benefits. The fruit is rich in vitamin C and contains small amounts of calcium and potassium. The leaves are a good source of fiber and contain antioxidants. The wood is heavy and strong and is used in construction and industry. There are several species of buckthorn around the world; some are invasive aliens that have spread throughout North America while others are indigenous trees that occur mainly in Europe.
Buckthorn has been used for medicinal purposes since at least 1634 when it was mentioned in Dr. John Gerard's book "The Herball or General Plantae Directory". Today, it is still considered one of the most valuable medicines available. The different parts of the plant are used for various ailments. The leaves are applied to wounds to help them heal faster.
The cut-and-stump method. Round Up Plus Concentrate is the most widely used herbicide for killing buckthorn. Apply the herbicide on newly cut buckthorn with a paint brush. The plant will die as a result of this. Don't apply it closer than 3 inches to a trunk or branch or it won't take effect. Let any remaining weeds grow for harvest later.
The spray method. This is the most effective way of killing buckthorn plants. Mix equal parts Round Up and water and spray the mixture on young buckthorn plants. Allow at least 30 minutes between applications. If you want to be sure not to get any herbicide on other plants and animals, then use a cone-shaped applicator called a "boomerang." These can usually be bought from your local garden center.
Roundup is very toxic if ingested so do not touch any part of the plant after it has been sprayed. In addition, never feed the product to livestock because they will also consume some that may have gotten onto pasture land. Animals should not eat buckthorn either since it contains chemicals that are harmful to their health.
Buckthorn can re-grow from its roots so clear away all of the plant material each year to ensure that it does not return. This can be done by cutting it back by about half during late spring or early summer.
Buckthorn plants with a diameter of two inches or more are best controlled by cutting the stem at the soil surface and then burying or treating the stump to prevent re-sprouting. Hand tools (for a few plants), chain saws, or brush cutters can be used efficiently for cutting. A shovel is useful for digging stumps.
The easiest and most effective way to control buckthorn is to spray it with glyphosate. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that kills both grasses and non-grass plants such as buckthorn. It controls many problems of invasive buckthorn in roadsides, parks, and other areas where it is undesirable or illegal to use a tractor or mower. Do not apply glyphosate within 24 hours before or after applying another herbicide of any kind. Follow all instructions on the label. You may need to apply glyphosate several times during the growing season if buckthorn returns.
Glyphosate is very toxic to humans and animals. If you get it into your eyes, rinse immediately with water. If you swallow some, call your doctor right away so that help can be sent out immediately.
Buckthorn seeds are dispersed by wind and animals; therefore, removal of all plant material will reduce the chance of new plants developing from seed.
Buckthorn provides a safe haven for soybean aphid eggs to overwinter. It also upsets the natural world's equilibrium by displacing suitable native understory species and forming a dark, dense thicket. Angela Gupta, a University of Minnesota Extension forestry instructor, demonstrates how to recognize buckthorn in the first of two films below. The second video shows various ways people have used buckthorn over time.
Buckthorn has many names, including Indian bread, Irish bread, and witch's broom because it was once used to beat witches into submission. Today, it is known as an invasive plant species that spreads rapidly due to its large seeds that remain viable for several years. Invasive species can cause problems for the environment by replacing more ecologically beneficial plants with ones that don't belong here. For example, buckthorn grows in full sun which allows no room for other plants to grow in, so it dominates the landscape where it's found. This affects the ability of other organisms to find food and shelter because there's not enough space for everyone else's needs. Buckthorn also uses its poisonous berries as weapons to protect itself from predators. Even though humans may want to use buckthorn for timber or fuel, this doesn't always happen because it competes with desirable species for soil nutrients and sunlight.
In conclusion, buckthorn impacts the environment through invasion, displacement of suitable native understory species, and formation of a dark, dense thicket.