Help identifying bush on my property – European Buckthorn


Hi – I live 15 min north of Peterborough ON, there are about a dozen of these bushes around my property line (on a farmers field edge so I’m pretty sure they are wild) I’ve attached three pics from the same bush, there are hard green berries close to the main stem of each branch and each bush is about 4-6 feet tall. Thanks!


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.

Sending us three pics of different parts of the plant is very helpful to identify the European buckthorn. Rhamnus cathartica, commonly called common or European buckthorn, is a weedy, thicket-forming, deciduous shrub or small tree that typically grows to 6 m (20 ft) high. European buckthorn was introduced as an ornamental shrub, but its seeds have been widely scattered by birds and other animals so it is common in fence lines, woodland, pastures and abandoned farmyards throughout southern Ontario. Today European buckthorn is considered to be an invasive exotic species in Ontario.

Controlling Common Buckthorn before it becomes well established is your best way. A variety of mechanical control methods can be used to kill or remove buckthorn.

  • Pulling: When the soil is moist, small plants up to 1 m (3ft) in height can be pulled. As Common Buckthorn grows, it puts down a deep root system very quickly (dependent on soil conditions) and sends out lateral roots that can be as long as 2 – 3 m which will also need to be removed. Larger plants can be dug out, or pulled out using a weed wrench tool.
  • Mowing will reduce stem numbers and vigour, and will eventually kill off most seedlings. It needs to be carried out in early and late summer for at least 2 – 3 consecutive years and is recommended for stems that are less than 2 years old.

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