Tom's Blog

Monday, November 3, 2008

Buckthorn out of control

Let me emphasize that the images here are "not" from Pleasant Valley Conservancy. They are from an area that was cleared of all buckthorn about 10 years ago and then ignored. What is shown here is regeneration from the seed bank. All of the "old growth" buckthorn had been removed. There are no plants here with berries (buckthorns don't start flowering until they are older). This is an example of what happens if you don't follow up on a buckthorn clearing project.

There are some rather dismal reasons why there was no follow up here. The point is that one's work isn't done when one rids an area of buckthorn.

You won't find discussion of this situation in any of the numerous manuals or web sites that deal with buckthorn. Why?

How about burning? Despite strong hope from the folks who did this work, there was no burning done, again, for rather poor reasons. Burning would have certainly helped a lot here. There are plenty of oak leaves to carry a fire. Annual burns would have kept the regeneration in check, although it would have not eliminated growth from the seed bank. Instead of having the fifteen foot high buckthorns seen here, there would have been plants a few feet high, and much more amenable to attack.

Moral: don't spend volunteer time or donated money on a major restoration project unless the work can be followed up.

Just to be clear: 99% of what is green in these photos is a buckthorn plant!


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