Reporter's Notebook: Artist takes on destructive plant

You don’t have to be an artist to make a statement. And, you most certainly do not have to spend your time like Jim Proctor, creating giant faux dandelions to fix a problem.

Pulling buckthorn can be fun, says St. Olaf sophomore John van der Linden, who helped Proctor with the newest installations of the Buckthorn Menace. He laughs remembering the time that even a downpour of rain didn’t stop him and his friends from pulling the root.

“Everything was all muddy, yet we still stood there in the rain pulling out buckthorn. It looked like we came out of a swamp or something, but it was just so much fun to get down and dirty and really work on this major problem.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has some tips for recognizing buckthorn and aiding in its removal.

To control buckthorn, a plant that is slowing destroying Minnesota's forests, people need to kill it by pulling it out at its roots and cutting down seed producing trees, says Ann Pierce, a terrestrial invasive species coordinator for the Department.

Many people with one or two buckthorn hedges in their lots might not understand it’s an invasive species, says Pierce. But, buckthorn can easily be identified in the fall because it holds its leaves and stays green longer than most native species.

"If you wait until October, you’ll know if it’s buckthorn," she says.