Glossy buckthorn was introduced in the late nineteenth century as an ornamental tree. Later, it was encouraged in the landscape for wildlife habitat and windbreaks. Now that its invasiveness is known, many Midwestern states prohibit the sale of buckthorn.
A large shrub or small tree (tall range of 25 feet), glossy buckthorn can be identified by its dark brown bark with white "spots". It is often multi-stemmed but some cultivars will grow in a more straight manner. Alternative leaves are accentuated by berries that turn nearly black by late summer/early fall.
Like most invasive species, the rapid growth and spread of buckthorn can cause significant habitat damage. Monocultures can develop and its thicket-style growth prevents new native plants from establishing.
Photo credits: Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org | Leslie J. Mehrhoff, UConn, Bugwood.org | William Fountain, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org | Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org
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