---- The plant with roots In Hell
One anti-marijuana propaganda film of the U.S. government was called “Reefer Madness”, the 'demon weed'. If there is a plant with its roots in hell, it would be the common buckthorn. Buckthorn is an invasive species imported from Asia as an ornamental. It crowds out native plants and reproduces faster than rabbits. It is spreading everywhere in our parts.
Its leaves are first out in spring and last off in fall thus outcompeting our native plants. It produces dark blue/black berries with four seeds per berry. The birds eat these berries and spread them.
Buckthorn berries (and bark and roots) are toxic. The berries cause severe cramping and diarrhea in humans. Birds eat them but they are too low in protein to prepare them for their migrations. Buckthorn berries have been called “starvation food for birds”.
Children must be kept out of their areas as the blue/black berries may be mistaken for blueberries and accidentally eaten. If you must have one for an ornamental shrub, get a male, the ones without berries.
Start removing these plants by cutting the larger seed-bearing plants close to the ground, best in the spring, and spray the stump with weed killer all around the stump just inside the bark. This will ensure maximum uptake of the weed killer. You may need to repeat this for some years as necessary as they are highly prone to put out shoots. Smaller plants can be pulled with come-alongs, vehicles, pulleys, plant wrenches, etc. Smaller plants (1/2” or less) can be pulled by hand – if your back is strong.
Do not only cut them and think you’re done. If cut, they will immediately put out several shoots and where one was there will now be several. Pull smaller plants out with their roots intact. This takes a lot of work, another reason why they spread so rapidly, but if you keep at it you will soon notice that native plants are establishing themselves where the buckthorn were. It will take several years to complete its eradication as the fallen seeds will keep sprouting in the added light created by the removal of the parent plant. Keep at it! It is a horrible plant!