Buckthorn 101

These pamphets and articles will provide all the information you need to combat Buckthorn.

Buckthorn: A Battle Worth Fighting, by Prairie Smoke member Greg Lamp

The dirt on Buckthorn, a pamplet provided by the Minnesota DNR

Side-by-side comparison of a variety of Buckthorn removal methods.

You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open these pdf files. Click here to download free-of-charge.

Vendetta Against Buckthorn

Reprinted with permission from Post Bulletin article for 12/28/2006. Written by staff writer John Weiss.

GRAND MEADOW - Greg Lamp leads a quick tour through the woods behind his house. Look at this tree, he says. He reaches out and snaps off a twig. It's brittle. Any Boy Scout knows that's how you can tell a live tree from a dead one; live twigs bend, dead ones snap off. Lamp moves further into his woods between Grand Meadow and Spring Valley. He snaps off more twigs. All are dead. The trees would make great tinder for a fire. Lamp is clearly thrilled.

His one-man crusade to control buckthorn, a shrub with pretty green leaves and an ugly habit of crowding out native trees, is clearly working. He has a vendetta against buckthorn. He hates it, spends many hours fighting it and is trying to get others to join in his struggle.

His New Year's resolution last year was to get more active in killing buckthorn. That will be his resolution again this year and for at least two more years.

With the help of a special sprayer, chemicals and a lot of work, he hopes to control buckthorn on his 31 acres. It's his way of doing something for the outdoors, and to preserve the biological integrity of one of the many small woodlots that dot this region. "It's a very, very rare individual who has a grove that doesn't have any buckthorn on it," Lamp said.

His research shows it's an ornamental bush brought to this country in the 1850s that is now listed as a noxious weed. It takes over oak or maple forests, invades prairies and dominates the understory where young oaks and maples grow, not letting other trees grow. To kill it, he found a special sprayer to apply a chemical that penetrates the bark and gets into the roots, killing the plant. He's getting good at it, but he has plenty to practice on. He figures there are 4,000 to 9,000 buckthorns per acre on his land alone.

The magnitude makes his passion daunting, he said. That's why he keeps his head down when spraying, looking only at trees near his feet. If he looked up and saw how many more infest the woods, "You would say 'My gosh, I'll never get this sprayed,'" he said. If Lamp gets frustrated, he just goes back to where he sprayed in the past few years and sees all the dead buckthorn, brittle, some already toppled. Then he goes back to spraying.

Lamp hopes others begin seeing the problems, maybe doing their little bit to preserve the old woodlots that are such a part of the rural landscape. Not everyone gets so worked up, he admits. "You have to pick your passion," he said.

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