Glossy Buckthorn

Glossy buckthorn leaves and unripe fruit


With shiny leaves and small dark fruit, glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) grows as a deciduous shrub or a small tree up to 20 feet tall. Native to Europe, Central Asia, and North Africa, it may have been introduced for landscaping.

The Problem

It produces many fruits, which are spread by birds, and invades fields, field edges, woodlands and wetlands, crowding out other plants.

The Solution

For small populations of seedlings and small plants, hand pulling can be effective. In fields, try frequent mowing. For larger plants, cutting can work well; either immediately apply a systemic herbicide to the cut stems, or apply it as a foliar spray to stump sprouts the following year. This plant frequently grows in wetlands subject to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. Anyone planning control work in these areas should first check with the local conservation commission; only herbicides registered for use in wetlands should be applied. Always read and follow the directions on the label when using herbicide.