Our world took a bit of a shift this week, when our neighbors, Country Insurance decided that it was time to deal with their buckthorn problem. We woke up one morning to the grounds crew and a small bulldozer stripping out any brush less than 4 inches in diameter. Their plan is to plant a grass savanna over the next several years, making their grounds more of a park like setting, instead of dense woods and under brush.
Common buckthorn was first brought to Minnesota from Europe in the mid-1800s as a very popular hedging material. Shortly after its introduction here, it was found to be quite invasive in natural areas. The nursery industry stopped selling it in the 1930s, but many buckthorn hedges may still be found in older neighborhoods throughout Minnesota. It out-competes native plants for nutrients, light, and moisture and threatens the future of forests, wetlands, prairies, and other natural habitats. While we totally understand why they are stripping the woods of most underbrush, it was quite a shock to see through the woods to their parking lot.