Benefits of Buckthorn

Due to their hardy habits, certain types of plants gain notoriety as aggressive species. Many landowners and gardeners dislike buckthorn plants in their landscapes. These plants vary in size between small trees and large shrubs, growing between 10 and 25 feet in height. Although buckthorns contain prickly thorns and display aggressive habits, these plants also display certain characteristics that benefit many landscape settings. Consider the benefits before trying to eradicate buckthorns from your property.

Wildlife Habitats

One benefit of growing buckthorns is their contribution to the area wildlife. These trees can make a useful and attractive contribution to a wildlife garden. Both common buckthorn and glossy buckthorn produce berries that provide food for birds and small animals. Although these berries may be slightly poisonous to humans, they appeal to many types of wildlife. Like other types of blossoming plants, buckthorns entice butterflies and bees with their nectar and pollen.

Erosion Control

Like other types of aggressive plants, buckthorn often grows in areas where other plants won’t survive, making them a good choice for protection against soil erosion. Plant roots help to bind the soil in place, reducing the possibility of damaging erosion. These large plants can thrive in both marshy wetlands and dry roadsides and prairies. They can grow in full sun or dense shade. Plant these along hillsides and waterways where other types of plants won’t grow. Their ability to survive in these areas of high erosion may benefit your landscape.

Quick Growth

These small trees and large shrubs grow quickly. Their rapid growth can quickly enhance bare areas, such as those due to new construction or remodeling projects. While some trees and shrubs take years to form attractive specimens in your landscape, buckthorns may reach their mature heights within just a few years. When planting new buckthorns, place them inside deep root barriers to contain their spreading growth to the area you designate.


Planted in close rows, buckthorns form tight hedgerows and barriers. Their bright green foliage can protect your privacy, while their prickly thorns may help deter uninvited neighborhood dogs and children. While these plants require very little trimming, you can shape them into attractive hedges, maintaining desirable shape and height in your landscape.

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About this Author

Piper Li, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear in Modern Mom, Biz Mojo, Walden University and GardenGuides. She is the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." With a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Mesa State, Li enjoys writing about health, horticulture and business management.