Cover It Up: Using Plants to Control Buckthorn (Complete)


Cover it up! Using plants to control buckthorn (Complete)

Peter Reich, Forest Resources


Minnesotans spend millions each year removing buckthorn from their properties. Yet owners find the invasive shrub returning to the same spots again and again. This vicious cycle happens because buckthorn is better at filling empty spaces in an ecosystem than most other native plants.

“Cover it Up!,” led by MITPPC-funded ecologist Peter Reich, developed strategies that will improve and diversify the native plant community while keeping buckthorn away for good. Together with more than a dozen local partner organizations, Reich’s team found that native grasses, wildflowers, sedges, ferns and juvenile trees can provide enough shade to prevent new buckthorn growth. This project continued in a new phase; read more here

Research questions

  • What native planting techniques can reduce the recurrence of buckthorn after removal?
  • How much shade is needed to prevent buckthorn from thriving?

Practical implications

This work could change the way we think about buckthorn management, helping Minnesota land managers save significant time and money in their long-term restoration efforts.





Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Friends of the Mississippi River, St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Stantec

Research Team:

Peter Reich, principal investigator

Lee Frelich, co-principal investigator

Peter Wragg, post-doctoral associate

Michael Schuster, post-doctoral associate