Protecting a natural legacy

Eden Prairie / Minnetonka, Minnesota
For the public good
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Common buckthorn and garlic mustard are arguably the most harmful invasive, non-aquatic plants in the Twin Cities metro region. We hope that the links and downloads in this section and our workshops are helpful.


Click on the YouTube screen for a 5-minute video overview of Friends of Birch Island Woods buckthorn workshops and pulls. Contact Jeff Strate at 952-949-8980 for help in planning or joining a buckthorn or garlic mustard pull in Birch Island Woods and Park.

Friends of Birch Island Woods, Inc. does not endorse any particular buckthorn or garlic mustard abatement method, tool, publication, business or service, but hopes that the information and links provided on these pages will direct folks toward effective and environmentally smart practices.


By Jeff Strate

Common and Glossy Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard are aggressive invasive plants that, if left unchecked, can choke out native woodland plants, shrubs, herbs and tree saplings. Buckthorn (a woody shrub that can grow as tall as a small tree) and garlic mustard (a biennial herb that grows from 1 to 4 feet in its second year) are common in the Twin Cities metro region along the edges of wooded areas, bike trails, roads, backyards, parklands and disturbed woodlands.

Over the years, buckthorn can form lush, green thickets. In just a few years, garlic mustard can form dense, leafy carpets. Established colonies of each give the impression that all is well in the forest, but as the two out-compete native plants, insects, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and songbirds disappear. The few surviving hardwood ecosystems in our region that were not cleared for sawmills, farms and suburban development are now being killed off by plants that were imported to North America for hedge rows (buckthorn) and cooking (garlic mustard).

Effective, do-it-yourself elimination of buckthorn and garlic mustard requires sound knowledge and periodic attention. Thickets of buckthorn and garlic mustard are daunting –- banks of their seeds hidden in the soil will sprout for years -- but the mission of getting rid of each over the long haul will require far less work than mowing, weed wacking, watering and dumping fertilizer, insecticides and money on a grass lawn.

In the sections of the Birch Island Woods Conservation Area and other woodlands that have been cleared of buckthorn, native Minnesota forest plants are making a come back on their own. Some buckthorn busters, however, jump-start the restoration process by planting locally grown natives purchased from select nurseries. Woodland (and prairie) restoration consultants are frequently hired to plan projects. Our website’s edition of Janet R. Larson’s buckthorn primer includes a list of trees, shrubs and plants that do well in buckthorn-liberated areas.

The pulling and uprooting of buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle disturbs a woodland’s ground cover prompting the spread of invasives like poison ivy and garlic mustard. When one considers that a single garlic mustard plant can produce from 100 to 7,900 seeds and that these seeds spread out an average of 20 feet per year to form new clusters, one realizes that buckthorn uprooting must include repair of the ground cover. Buckthorn removal projects also need to be garlic mustard removal projects in areas where both occur. ADVISORY: Read the materials available via our Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard Portals and get rid of Gm as soon as you see it

By removing buckthorn and other noxious invasives, you’ll be rewarded by the return of the colorful botanical arrays of a Minnesota hardwood forest. As you invest sweat equity into our woodland legacy under oak, maple, basswood, elm, cherry and birch canopies, you’ll be breathing fresh air, listening to bird song and using your muscles. By learning effective buck and garlic abatement methods and setting a goal, you can provide your family, neighbors, friends and organizations with opportunities to reconnect to the Earth in an unexpectedly social and enjoyable way. Mom Nature will smile broadly when glancing your way.


Includes a downloadable buckthorn primer, buckthorn removal and woodland restoration tips, links and access to buckthorn extracting tools.


Includes a downloadable garlic mustard manual, garlic mustard removal tips links.


Click here to contact some of the southwest suburban cities that permit organized volunteers to remove buckthorn and garlic mustard from public parklands.

To organize a group to remove buckthorn and/or garlic mustard as part of ongoing Friends of Birch Island Woods projects contact John Justen at 952-934-3718

Friends of Birch Island Woods

FBIW runs buckthorn, invasive plant & woodland plant seminars with forestry professionals in the spring, fall and winter or by special arrangement for groups. They’re intended for home owners, grounds keepers and scouts.

FBIW also coordinates buckthorn & garlic mustard pulls in Birch Island Woods and loans out Weed Wrenches to those who have attended our buckthorn seminars & pulls.

For scheduled buckthorn seminars & pulls






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