During the past 2 days, Little Falls High School students have been removing buckthorn from the Weyerhaeuser Museum’s property.
Buckthorn is an invasive species that was originally brought from Europe to Minnesota in the mid-1800s. Because it remains green for so long in the season, it was popular as a hedging material and people planted it with abandon, not necessarily realizing that buckthorn has figured out how to spread itself with abandon. It wasn’t until the 1930s that nurseries stopped selling it. (See this site on buckthorn from the Minnesota DNR, which provided info on where the plant came from.)
The high school students are part of Doug Ploof’s forestry class. Their zeal for removing buckthorn was palpable. Working in hour-long class shifts (with time to travel to and from the school), they made good use of their energy and removed a large volume of buckthorn within a few hours. The buckthorn has been placed on the berm in the museum’s parking lot, awaiting removal to the landfill. There’s so much of it that our berm looks like an English hedgerow.
Once buckthorn is cut, the stumps have to have a nasty chemical applied to the outer edge in order to kill the plant down to the roots. If the chemical is not applied, the plant will shoot out new trunks, like tentacles, more numerous than on the original plant. High school students aren’t allowed to apply this chemical, so board members Cathy Adamek, Pat Quinn, Camille Warzecha, along with Irene Becker’s husband Dave, handled this task.
This has been an interesting project to coordinate and we now know a lot more about buckthorn than we knew before.
We thank Doug Ploof and his forestry students, along with MCHS board members, for their considerable work on buckthorn removal.
For your edification, we have more photos to share.