Buckthorn Removal at Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area

Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area consists of three Natural Plant Community types. This includes an upland consisting of Red Oak, Sugar Maple, and Basswood forest. The majority of the WMA is made up of two wetland types; this includes willow dogwood shrub swamp and black ash, yellow birch, red maple, basswood swamp.

Anoka Conservation District started buckthorn management at Carl E. Bonnell this winter. This involves removing large buckthorn with a chainsaw and treating smaller buckthorn with a basal bark treatment technique. Both common and glossy buckthorn have been found in the WMA.

Both glossy and common buckthorn are invasive species and are on the Minnesota Restricted Noxious Weed list. Removing and treating buckthorn is important to protect ecosystems. Buckthorn grows thickly and outcompetes native plants for light and nutrients once established. 

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Winter Buckthorn Treatment is Underway

Common and glossy buckthorn are common invaders in native landscapes; common buckthorn grows mostly in upland environments while glossy buckthorn grows in wetland environments. ACD is working to control buckthorn at sites that still have intact native plant communities and rare plants to ensure those quality sites do not become further degraded. Work this winter is taking place at Robert and Marilyn Burman WMA, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, and Blaine Preserve SNA with funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

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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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