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Bloomington Briefing

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How to control buckthorn

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Have you noticed buckthorn around forested areas? This time of year, its shiny, egg-shaped leaves stand out from other vegetation. Buckthorn remains green after other vegetation has faded, even after a couple of frosts. Now through early winter is a good time to remove this nonnative invasive plant. 

While it takes some effort and ongoing strategy to get rid of buckthorn, the benefits are worth the effort. Uncontrolled buckthorn takes over landscapes. Native plants have no light to grow. Wildlife habitat becomes impaired as more diverse native species disappear. It’s a cycle that can make buckthorn the dominant plant in wooded areas.  

Small plants can be pulled by hand, while larger ones, up to two inches, can be pulled using tools called weed wrenches. Bloomington Public Works has a variety of these tools available for residents to check out. Reserve them by calling 952-563-4920. Always replant areas cleared of buckthorn. Use a mix of native flowers, grasses, shrubs or trees appropriate for the conditions of the site. Remember, buckthorn seeds can sprout and grow for three years. Removal is a multiyear commitment to pull, cut, treat and replace. 

To see how to identify and remove buckthorn, watch the video at For other information, visit or call 952-563-8730.