Fells Invasives – Glossy buckthorn

National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) is February 26 to March 3, 2024.

To recognize NISAW, we will be releasing a blog post every day this week on a different invasive plant species commonly found throughout the Fells.

Invasive plants are non-native plants that were introduced to our area from another region of the world. The elements that kept the non-native plant populations in check in its home region (e.g. disease, competition, predators) are no longer present once they are introduced to this new region. This means that the plant can grow out of control, rapidly outcompete native plants, and threaten native biodiversity. This threat to our native habitats and biodiversity makes management of invasives all the more important.

Read on to learn more about today’s invasive plant: Glossy buckthorn.

Photo by OldMuzzle on Wikimedia Commons.

Glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus)

Glossy buckthorn is a large shrub native to Europe and parts of Asia. Buckthorn was introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s as an ornamental plant and to help improve wildlife habitat. While it is not one of the more striking plants, it can grow up to 20 feet tall in dense thickets, making it a good privacy hedge for homes.

As the name suggests, glossy buckthorn has smooth leaves with smooth edges. It also has small white marks on its bark called lenticels. Lenticels are structures on bark that allow for a plant to exchange gas between the air and its internal tissues. Buckthorn grow small, inconspicuous white flowers in the spring and produce dark purple berries that ripen in the late summer.

Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek.

Like the other invasive plant species discussed this week, glossy buckthorn can survive in a variety of environments and especially in a variety of soil types and qualities. It leaves out earlier than in the spring than native plants, blocking the sun from reaching the forest floor and the plants that reside there. It can also prevent the establishment of native seedlings, which impacts biodiversity and harm insects and other species that rely on a diverse understory of plants to survive.

Check in tomorrow to learn about our last invasive plant of the week: Garlic mustard.

Want to help us combat invasive plants like glossy buckthorn? Join us for a volunteer day by signing up on our calendar here!