Can I put buckthorn that was cut last spring into a wood chipper? I am concerned with the risk of spreading the seeds when I use the wood chips for mulching my trees and shrubs.

April 21, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF
First, we should say that buckthorn can be an invasive plant. See this article for more information: Buckthorn. If the buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) still has berries on it, the seeds will probably germinate after the branches are chipped and spread as mulch. In fact, the mulch will provide a favorable growing medium for them. Although buckthorn seedlings are easy to pull, they may not all come up at once, so getting rid of them will probably require weeding for a couple of years. If not a lot of berries are present, you may be able to snip them off before putting the buckthorn into the chipper. You could also eliminate most of the seeds by composting the chips, but the resulting product would not provide a long-lasting mulch.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.