Assault on Buckthorn Island: planned for Tuesday, August 19th, 5:00 p.m.

Volunteers from the Clark Fork Coalition and RCWG have spent several evenings pulling buckthorn seedlings and saplings along the western banks of Rattlesnake Creek adjacent to the PEAS Farm.

Buckthorn shrub with 5-foot weed wrench for scale

Buckthorn shrub with 5-foot weed wrench for scale

On our last outing in early August, CFC colunteer coordinator Bryce and I discovered what we hope is the original infestation of buckthorn along Rattlesnake Creek.
These aren’t just weeds–they’re trees. The largest stem is more than two inches in diameter. Even with a weed wrench, we won’t be pulling these plants out by the roots. But according to experts such as the Minnesota DNR (buckthorn is a more well-established and problematic invader in the Midwest than it is in Montana–so far!) we can control these plants by cutting them near the soil and covering the cut stem with black plastic, or by treating the cut stem with an appropriate herbicide (we will consult with weed specialist Morgan Valliant at the City before we embark on any poisoning–it sounds like just covering the stems may do the job).

Buckthorn berries

Buckthorn berries

We need to act fast because these buckthorns are mature adults, on the verge of reproducing–i.e. they’ve got lots of berries that are starting to ripen, after which they will be eaten and dispersed by birds (not by mammals or humans, since they’re poisonous to our kind–the original Anglo Saxon name of this plant is “purging buckthorn” which matches its scientific name Rhamnus cathartica L.)(yup, that “L.” stands for Linnaeus–the big guy–this plant goes way back in northern Europe 🙂 ).

So we’ll go back out there one last time (for this year, anyway) with our weed wrenches and also with clippers, loppers, pruning saws, garbage bags for the fruiting branches, and plenty of determination to eradicate buckthorn from one small island along the western edge of Rattlesnake Creek. You can help! Contact us by email and then show up at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 19th, at the end of Mountain View Drive on the west side of the creek, off Duncan Drive south of the PEAS Farm.

About Eric Edlund

A geographer

Posted on August 13, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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