In winter, consuming "naked calories", or any calories, can be a good thing. The sugar in the buckthorn fruits can be burned for energy or converted to fat for later energy. It is also possible that there may be more nutrition in the fruits than just sugar, and the mature buckthorn fruit is supposed to be digested slower, allowing more time for enzymes to work.
I am not suggesting that buckthorn is a positive addition to the landscape of the northeast, since it outcompetes many native shrubs that are part of the complexity of the ecosystem. I am suggesting that buckthorn helps fruit-eating birds survive the winter, and is not completely useless in the ecosystem.
From: Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of alison wagner
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2019 10:40 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Common Buckthorn
I have been successfully killing buckthorn without chemicals for years. Fortunately, on my property, the plants are not huge, still manageable but it is time consuming. Buckthorn is easy to find in the spring as it's one of the first to put out leaves. I rip all the leaves off the plant then mark the plant with surveyor tape so I can return in a few weeks to strip it again. If I am persistent, and do this a few times each growing season, the tree dies within a few years. So far I've found that all the shoots a plant sends up around the base of the trunk also seem to get exhausted and starve from my torture. Also, I look around the base of pine trees where I have found HUNDREDS of tiny buckthorns. When the birds perch and expel the seeds, it is usually around the trunk of these mature trees. I feed the tiny plants to my neighbor's goats who love them. In the fall, once most plants have shed their leaves, buckthorn are still holding onto theirs, so I go back out for an!
other round of hunting and weeding tiny plants....while wearing blazing orange during hunting season! This is part of the land management plan (managing invasives) so I see it as a break in tax rate is my earned pay. And knowing bird and mammals are not filling their bellies with what I call "naked calories" makes it worth the effort.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Marvin Elliott" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Vermont Birds" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2019 8:39:30 AM
Subject: [VTBIRD] Common Buckthorn
A Google Search led me to this quote regarding the problem of Common Buckthorn. It seems like wildlife food but some things are not as good as they appear.
Birds and mammals feed on buckthorn berries during the winter, aiding in the dispersal of seeds. While buckthorn may benefit from this behavior, the feeding animals do not. Buckthorn berries contain emodin, a natural laxative, that prevents mammals from digesting sugars found in the berries.
Just an FYI.