Buckthorn ID and Control

Late September through the end of October is a good time to inventory common buckthorn on your property. Common buckthorn leaves remain green longer than most Minnesota native trees and shrubs so they will stand out when other trees and shrubs are changing color and dropping leaves.

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) can be found in upland forests. Look for the thorn, which can be found at the end of some branches.

Glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) can invade wetlands. There are no thorns. Look for the rust colored terminal bud.

See the buckthorn fact sheet for tips to identify buckthorn, learn about native look-alikes, and find methods for controlling buckthorn.

For a safe way to treat buckthorn stumps, you can apply herbicide with buckthorn blasters/dobbers: https://landscape-restoration.com/

See the DNR's buckthorn management page for more information.

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Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Many invasive species are now beginning to develop mature seed. Here are some ways you can do your part to prevent spreading their seed:

  • Avoid mowing invasive species with seed. Seed will travel with the mower and likely remain on the mower to be spread into new areas.
  • Beware of seeds found on your boots or clothing. They may be in the mud between your boot treads or attached to your clothes like Velcro. Use a boot brush to clean your boots and check for seeds on your clothing.
  • Seeds may also attached to treads on bikes, ATV, and stroller tires. Spray down tires to remove mud and plant parts.


Invasive plants can harm ecosystems and choke out beneficial native plants. Always be vigilant to prevent the spread of invasive species!

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Spurge Euphorbia esula MN Noxious Weed: Prohibited – Control

  • 1-2 foot tall
  • Greenish-yellow flower bracts
  • Simple and opposite leaves
  • A white, milky sap exudes if the stem or leaves are cut
  • Grows in full to part sun in range of soil types and moisture

If you see leafy spurge, please report it on EDDMaps: www.eddmaps.org/

For more information and control methods see:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/leafyspurge.html

https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge

Biological control is an option for reducing large infestations of leafy spurge. Adult leafy spurge beetles (Aphthona lacertosa) feed on the leaves and lay eggs at the base of spurge plants. Larvae feed on the roots over the winter until they pupate and emerge as adults the following summer. See: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge/leafyspurge

Photo at Anoka Nature Preserve. 7.3.2019
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Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching – saves time, builds soil, and smothers existing weeds or lawn without using herbicide.

Sheet mulching is an excellent way to convert lawn to garden beds without using herbicides or excessive labor. Meanwhile it can build soil and be accomplished with readily available materials.

Begin by mowing grass or other vegetation in the area you want to convert into a new garden bed. It can be as simple as layers of newspaper or cardboard topped by four inches of mulch to smother grass and weeds underneath. If this is started in the spring, the underlying plants will have died from lack of light and the garden bed will be ready for planting in the fall.A more diverse layering of material will produce a compost that will break down and build your soil. For this, layer:

  1. Soil amendments if soil test results recommend amendments (lime, greensand, etc.). Recommended if you are creating a vegetable garden.
  2. Thin layer of compost.
  3. Wet newspaper or cardboard, 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Thin layer of nitrogen source such as manure.
  5. Layer of straw or leaves (carbon source).
  6. Continue to alternate layers of nitrogen and carbon sources.
  7. End with a top layer of mulch.

This type of bed is finished when these layers have decomposed. It may take the entire growing season to decompose sufficiently. If you start in the spring, the bed will likely be ready to plant in the fall.

See the Xerces Society Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment publication for more organic site preparation methods and directions:

https://xerces.org/publications/guidelines/organic-site-preparation-for-wildflower-establishment

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Stop the Spread of GARLIC MUSTARD


Garlic Mustard / Alliaria petiolata

An invasive Species you can eat.

Garlic mustard is a highly aggressive invasive species, growing in woodlands and woodland edges. It is one of the first invasive species to emerge and flowers in May – June. It is a biennial forb, producing a basal rosette the first year and bolting to produce an elongated stalk, flowers and seed in the second year. Since garlic mustard is a biennial the main goal is to prevent the plant from going to seed. The best way to control garlic mustard is to hand pull the entire plant (including the roots). If flowers or seed pods are present, it is necessary to compost at a facility that composts at high heat. Plants can produce viable seed even after pulled.

Garlic Mustard is edible and has medicinal uses

Garlic mustard leaves are available very early in the spring as soon as the ground begins to warm. Like all greens, leaves taste better when leaves are young and before the plant has bolted. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild garlic and mustard flavor.

Popular recipes include:

  • garlic mustard potato salad
  • wilted greens in stir fry
  • tabbouleh
  • garlic mustard pesto

Medicinal properties of garlic mustard leaves and stems: antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary (Grieve 1984 and Chiej 1984). Greens are high in Vitamin A and C.

Important! Never eat wild plants unless you are certain about identification. Some plants are poisonous. Know the site rules about harvesting plants on public and private lands. Determine past management of the area. Don't consume plants from areas that were treated with herbicides.

Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9

Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5

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