Glossy Buckthorn


Deciduous shrub or small tree. Leaves simple, oval with point, 10-12 pairs of veins parallel to each other. Bark gray with yellowish spotted lenticils. Scratched twig has yellow layer and characteristic burnt odor. Clusters of berries turn red then dark purple.


Spreads by birds eating the berries. Leafs out early and holds leaves late, shading out native trees and other species and preventing them from regenerating. Blankets large swaths such as the understory of Cold Spring Park’s red maple forest.


Small trees are easy to hand pull at any season and will not resprout if root is pulled up; many larger trees can be pulled with a Weed Wrench.  If tree cannot be pulled or dug up, it can easily be cut at base at any season, but best to do in early spring before berries form. If cut later, be sure that any berries are bagged and incinerated. Cut stems will resprout and will need to be repeatedly cut (unless you use a licensed professional to apply a chemical treatment).

Links and Resources

For more information on how to identify and control Glossy Buckthorn, please refer to the resources below:

  1. Invasive Plant Atlas for identification
  2. Mass Audubon for identification
  3. Michigan Department of Natural Resources for identification and control
  4. Cold Spring Park Buckthorn Demonstration Project for our current project