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Common buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica, is a shrub or small tree that can grow to 22 feet in height and have a trunk up to 10 inches wide. The crown shape of mature plants is spreading and irregular. The bark is gray to brown, rough textured when mature and may be confused with that of plum trees in the genus Prunus. When cut, the inner bark is yellow and the heartwood, pink to orange. Twigs are often tipped with a spine. In spring, dense clusters of 2 to 6, yellow-green, 4-petaled flowers emerge from stems near the bases of leaf stalks. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Small black fruits about 1/4 inch in cross-section and containing 3-4 seeds, form in the fall. Leaves are broadly oval, rounded or pointed at the tip, with 3-4 pairs of upcurved veins, and have jagged, toothed margins. The upper and lower leaf surfaces are without hairs. Leaves appear dark, glossy green on the upper surface and stay green late into fall, after most other deciduous leaves have fallen. A similar problem exotic species is Rhamnus frangula, glossy buckthorn. Glossy buckthorn does not have a spine at twig tips, leaves are not toothed, and the undersides of the leaves are hairy.

Common buckthorn was introduced to North America as an ornamental shrub for fence rows and wildlife habitat. Introduction of buckthorn was based on its hardiness and ability to thrive in a variety of soil and light conditions but buckthorns tend to form dense, even-aged thickets, crowding and shading out native shrubs and herbs, often completely obliterating them. Dense buckthorn seedlings prevent native tree and shrub regeneration. In fire-adapted ecosystems such as savannas and prairies, the lack of vegetation under buckthorn prohibits fires.

- from http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/rhca1.htm
Susan Wieseler, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Rochester, MN.

If removed quickly enough, the area can regenerate on its own. Otherwise, the area must be replanted.

We remove buckthorn completely and effectively.

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