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Home > Plants, Pests & Pest Control > Pest Management > Noxious & Invasive Weed Program > Weed of the Month > June 2016 - Glossy Buckthorn

June Weed of the Month: Glossy Buckthorn


Leaves and fruit of glossy buckthornJune’s Weed of the Month is glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus). Glossy buckthorn is a highly invasive large shrub or small tree native to Europe and Asia. It threatens riparian, wetland, and upland forest areas. Glossy buckthorn forms dense stands that crowds out and completely displaces understory habitats.

Glossy buckthorn forms multiple stems as a young plant that develop into a single trunk as it matures. The main stem can be up to 10 inches in diameter, and the cut stem is orange in the center. The leaves are alternate along the branches and do not produce terminal thorns like common buckthorn. The leaves are oval, glossy, toothless, and have veins that radiate outward from a central mid-vein. Glossy buckthorn flowers from May to July, and the berries transition from green to red to dark purple.

Though a threat to Minnesota’s forests, Glossy buckthorn can also invade a variety of upland landscapes and urban regions. By forming dense stands, it prevents the natural regeneration of forest tree and shrub species. Ripened berries drop directly beneath the plants, and are consumed by birds that then spread the seed. It is also a concern to agricultural producers because it can serve as an alternate host for alfalfa mosaic virus, oat crown rust, and soybean aphid.

Management of glossy buckthorn requires a multi-year commitment. A management plan that emphasizes native species restoration will help prevent new populations from developing.

  • Uprooting small diameter plants can be effective on smaller stands. Reducing soil disturbance is important to prevent new glossy buckthorn seedlings and other invasive plants from emerging.
  • Prescribed fire can be useful in areas with dense populations. For more information on prescribed burns, contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Forestry.
  • Herbicide treatments that move their active ingredients into the root system can be effective. Treatments will need to be administered for several growing seasons until the population is eliminated or under control. If using herbicide treatments, contact your local University of Minnesota Extension office.