Invasive Species Profile: Buckthorn

Another common noxious species in Minnesota is buckthorn. Not only is buckthorn toxic to many animal species, but spreads easily and is essentially, impenetrable.

invasive species buckthorn


Buckthorn is a species of shrubs/small-sized tree and was initially used to create hedges and other types of landscaping. The plant can grow anywere from 3 to 30 feet in size.


Buckthorn gows mostly in the Northern Hemisphere and are typically contained to North America and Asia. Common and glossy buckthorn are the two invasive species of buckthorn that can be found in Minnesota, usually along the road, in forests, and backyards.


Records indicate buckthorn was brought to Minnesota in the 1800s to be used as natural hedges between properties. Minnesota nurseries stopped selling buckthorn around the 1930s. Buckthorn is most noticable in the late fall, because their leaves stay green longer than other surrounding plants.

WHY (raise awareness)?

The usefulness of buckthorn as hedges is just the beginning of detrimental buckthorn is for native species. Because buckthorn grows so densely and agressively, it often outcompetes other nearby plants. The foliage is quite full, preventing sun from reaching the ground and depriving grasses and other small plants the ability to get necessary energy from the sun. As if those qualities weren’t bad enough, buckthorn seeds are tough and can stay viable for years outside of soil.

HOW (can I help?)

The best way to defeat the spread of buckthorn is through consistent maintenance. In order to successfully remove buckthorn from your property or designated area, you must remove the entire plant – roots and all. If the shrub has berries on it, you need to take extra precautions to minimize the amount of berries that fall to the ground.

If you have further questions about how to control buckthorn or how to identify it, check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website: