How To Control Buckthorn On Your Property

At Ron’s Tree Service, we’re here for you for a lot of things - tree and shrub trimming,tree removal, stump grinding, firewood - you name it. And while we don’t typically remove buckthorn ourselves, we do know how much of a pest it can be. So our team has put together a hand buckthorn removal guide for you, to help as you try to tackle this invasive Minnesota problem.

And for all your other tree and shrub needs,get in touchwith our team today!

What Is Buckthorn?

Buckthorn is a tall shrub or small tree, about 20’ high when fully grown. It thrives in woods and prairies, has thorns, small flowers and black, ¼” diameter fruit on female plants. It’s seeds are viable for up to 5 years in the soil, so expect a long campaign of elimination.

Buckthorn is listed as a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota.


Ways to prioritize management:

  • Remove trees with fruit first.
  • If you have areas with relatively few buckthorn trees, start your management there. Then work towards the areas that are more heavily infested.
  • Continue to follow-up in the areas where you have previously removed buckthorn for three years, as the seeds can live in the soil for up to 5 years before sprouting.

Buckthorn Removal Methods

Before using any herbicide, fully read the instructions, use any recommended safety equipment and keep children and pets away from the area. Before pulling or digging plants out, call your local utilities to determine if there are any underground pipes or cables you might disturb. The best time to do buckthorn removal is in late summer and early fall.

Pulling Plants

If the buckthorn plants you want to remove are less than ½” in diameter, you should be able to pull them out by their roots and they won’t resprout. You can do this by hand, or with a special tool.

Exterior Herbicide

Seedlings (less than ½” in diameter) and short buckthorn plants can be killed with Roundup type herbicides. The herbicide usually needs to be sprayed over most of the trunk of the plant.

Cut & Herbicide

Buckthorn that is larger than 2” in diameter is best controlled by cutting the stem near the soil surface, then spraying or painting herbicide on the stump to prevent resprouting. Use a hand tool or power tool to make your cut.

Cut & Cover

If you don’t want to use herbicide on larger buckthorn plants, you can also cut and then cover the stump to prevent resprouting. Many home and garden stores sell “Buckthorn Baggies” which can be secured over the stump - otherwise, use a tin can and nail or screw it to the stump to prevent resprouting. You’ll need to leave it in place for 1-2 years.