During the 1800s, a new plant species was introduced in the United States known today as Buckthorn.
What was originally considered a nice landscape plant has become much more than that across the nation, as the plant is now considered an invasive species. In fact, it has become so prolific in some areas programs have been implemented to work toward controlling it.
One of those programs has been occurring in Redwood County, as the Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation District received a grant from the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) that would allow for removal of the plant.
This past Friday National Guard members from the Redwood Falls and Hutchinson units were in town to work on that.
The grant was awarded in 2008, said Marilyn Bernhardson, Redwood County SWCD executive director, and the first clean-up efforts in Ramsey Park were conducted in 2010. That effort led to the clearing of about 4.5 acres of Buckthorn.
Bernhardson said they were told the Guard units were returning to do more work, which was done in the Zeb Gray shelter area. Yes, said Bern-hardson, the area is full of Buckthorn.
“Buckthorn is highly invasive,” said Kristy Zajac, SWCD district technician. “Buckthorn takes over the understory and smothers out other plants.
“It can become quite a problem.”
Zajac said Buckthorn is not an ugly tree, but because its seeds are a diuretic it is easily spread from one location to another by birds that eat them.
She also said one can typically tell if there is a Buckthorn problem in one’s grove in the fall. When all of the other trees have lost their leaves, Buckthorn still is very green.
The cooperative weed management grant is one-time funding, said Bernhardson, but those who are working to control it know the potential el-imination of Buckthorn is a long-term effort.
The seeds, said Zajac, can sit in the ground for five years and still produce, which means any place where seeds have been found could have an issue for a number of future years.
Zajac said Buckthorn has male and female plants, and it is the female plants which produce the berries, so it is tantamount in control to get rid of the females as a priority.
After Buckthorn trees are cut the stumps have to be treated with a chemical to ensure they die.
While Buckthorn is not the only invasive plant species in Ramsey Park or in the county, it is the one that causes the greatest level of concern, said Zajac, adding right now it is pretty much everywhere in Ramsey Park.
The Minnesota Department of Agricul-ture has declared both Common Buckthorn and Glossy Buckthorn to be restricted noxious weeds, which means the sale, transport or movement of these plants is prohibited.
Page 2 of 2 - Zajac said to remember just because a tree has been cut down does not mean it is gone, and those who have it must remain proactive to control it.