One of the greatest threats to Wisconsin forests is spreading rapidly and some experts consider it more destructive and dangerous than oak wilt, dutch elm and emerald ash borer combined. Invasive species garlic mustard and buckthorn are decimating forests and forestry experts say many landowners and outdoor enthusiasts aren’t familiar with the plants. In order to change that, leaders are hosting a free program for anyone interested in learning how to identify and treat these forest killers. 

“This is the greatest threat to our northern Wisconsin forest since the Peshtigo fire,” stated Dennis Fincher, Kretz Lumber Company Forester. “The growth of garlic mustard and buckthorn is exploding rapidly. The horror stories are beginning, yet many landowners don’t know how to identify these plants or what to do if they find them on their property.”

To raise awareness and educate the public, leaders from Kretz Lumber Company and the Department of Natural Resources are presenting a free program to teach residents how to identify and treat garlic mustard and buckthorn. The invasive species program will be held on Thursday, November 2 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Langlade County Fairgrounds Multipurpose Building, 1635 Neva Road, Antigo. Anyone with questions can call Dennis Fincher, Kretz Lumber Company Forester, at 715-493-4041 or Travis Larson, Department of Natural Resources, at 715-623-4190.

The program is sponsored by Kretz Lumber Company, the Department of Natural Resources, Langlade County Forestry, and Verso Paper.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:51

A major threat to Wisconsin’s forests

Hello Kretz Forest Family and Friends:

It was my turn to come up with an article for the newsletter, so I decided to address a very big concern of mine and one that should concern all who strive to keep our forest healthy: the major threats of invasive species, especially buckthorn and garlic mustard.

These two invasive plants have caused major problems for forest landowners by displacing native understory vegetation, forming an impenetrable understory layer, destroying wildlife habitat and causing long term decline of forests by shading out other woody and herbaceous plants. 

There are two kinds of buckthorn, glossy and smooth. They both leaf out very early in spring and retain their leaves late into autumn. Leaves are dark green and do not change color before being shed in the fall. Common buckthorn fruits are green, changing to black in the fall, and eaten by birds and mammals, yet poisonous to humans. 

Common Buckthorn. Photo: UW-Extension

How did these get here and how do they spread?

Buckthorn was introduced into North America as ornamentals, planted as hedgerows and shelter belts during the 1800s. 

Buckthorn invades woodlands, savannas, prairies, abandoned fields, marshes, wetlands and roadsides, capable of growing in full sun and dense shade. They are fast growing woody perennials and if not controlled they can and will spread quickly. Forest understories can become so dense that native species of wild flowers and woody regeneration cannot compete and eventually disappear. 

(Photo by UW-Extension)

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