Buckthorn in Minnesota

Here at Sargent’s, we believe that the natural world has the ability to improve people’s lives. We have made it our business to foster the relationships between people and their outdoor spaces. Most of the time this means having fun providing high-quality products and services to our amazing customers and making our community as beautiful as it can be. But occasionally, our position as stewards of this industry mandates we address threats to this belief. Invasive species are one such threat. For over 50 years, Sargent’s has contributed to the treatment, mitigation, and research of invasive species that affect our area. It’s important to us that our customers have accurate information regarding invasive species and how they can help preserve the outdoor spaces we all hold so dear. 


Originating in Europe, buckthorn was imported to North America for its landscape uses – generally used as a popular hedging material. After it became apparent that buckthorn was invasive, it was made illegal to sell to the public beginning in the 1990s. Although buckthorn is no longer used in landscaping, it continues to spread through natural means. The seeds have a laxative effect on birds, which amplifies its spread. 

Impact on Environment

Few things have changed the ecosystem of Southern Minnesota forests like buckthorn. Due to its prolific spreading and aggressive nature, buckthorn has become the dominant plant in many wooded areas of SE MN.  Buckthorn is most easily identified in early spring or late fall because it is nearly the first to leaf out and last to lose its leaves. 

Buckthorn easily out-competes native plants for resources and can quickly overtake an area. Once this happens, the bio-diversity that many animals depend on is lost. Additionally, Buckthorn creates habitat for other harmful pests and diseases. 


For smaller residential areas, it is possible to remove and eradicate buckthorn manually. Be aware, this is a difficult process even for small areas as the entire stump and root system must be removed or killed. This is a long process that should be approached with patience. The seeds remaining in the soil can germinate for many years after a removal effort. In large areas, the impacts of buckthorn can only be mitigated. 

Sargent’s offers products and services to assist in buckthorn removal. Our garden centers stock brush and stump killer that has proven effective. We also offer full buckthorn removal services. For more information, visit our tree care page. 

Our Commitment to You

Sargent’s is committed to mitigating the spread of invasive species in MN and remaining the source of knowledge, quality, and service that you’ve come to expect. Sargent’s will continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the University of Minnesota, and other industry leaders to remain at the forefront of this issue. We are committed to minimizing the impact of invasive species and to keeping your gardens, and ours, flourishing for decades to come. 

Invasive Species E-News

For those that are interested, we have created an e-newsletter dedicated specifically to invasive species. If you want to be kept up to date on current jumping worm research, fill out the form below. 

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