(Before) Open area without buckthorn.


(After) Buckthorn in December still holding view-blocking leaves.

The DNR posted on their website the question, “Why is Buckthorn such a problem?” and they list seven reasons why.  The list, posted below, made us think about perspective.  Is Buckthorn “black-and-white”, completely horrible?  It must have “good” qualities or it wouldn’t have been planted so widely in the Twin Cities.  After all, Buckthorn is here to stay so we may as well look for positive attributes.  Below we list seven positive attributes of this invasive shrub.

7 good things to say about Buckthorn in Minnesota:

1) FAST-GROWING. Few shrubs grow this quickly and in such a wide range of conditions.
2) SHAPE-ABLE. Buckthorn can be easily trimmed and shaped anytime of year into hedges and small trees!
3) BLOCKS WEEDS. The DNR writes that buckthorn, “forms an impenetrable layer of vegetation”.  That written, many say that “a weed is a good plant where you don’t want it”.
4) FOOD RICH.  The berries of the buckthorn are a very popular food for wildlife during the harsh winter months.
5) DENSE WILDLIFE HABITAT. Small animals seek shelter in the dense branches to avoid predictors.  Also, birds nest in the protective dense branches and larger animals like deer will strip buckthorn for food when hungry.
6) THICK, NATURAL SCREENING. Buckthorn is one of the first shrubs to sprout leaves in spring and one of the last shrubs to loose leaves in fall.  It was grown for its dense growth habit and has proven to do a very good job blocking objectionable views.
7) SHADE-TOLERANT. One of the few shrubs that can thrive in dense shade!