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Controlling unwanted trees and shrubs

Quick facts

  • Invasive trees and shrubs are non-native plants that can reduce property values, damage the environment and harm human health.
  • Native woody plants also can be aggressive when they spread into areas where they are not wanted.
  • Common woody invasive species in Minnesota:

Common aggressive woody plants

Some commonly seen invasive woody plants in Minnesota include: 

  • Amur maple
  • Buckthorn
  • Norway maple
  • Non-native bush honeysuckles
  • Multi-flora rose
  • Black locust
  • Japanese barberry
  • Russian olive
  • Siberian elm
  • Siberian pea shrub
  • Mulberry 

For details on these invasive species and more, see Identify invasive and non-native species and visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  

Native woody plants can also be aggressive growers and spread into areas they aren’t wanted. An example of this is encroachment of box elder and cottonwoods into lands planted as grasslands.

Native plants that grow rapidly include poison ivy, blackberry, raspberry, sumac, hazel, prickly ash, dogwood, wild grape, Virginia creeper and poplar species like aspen and cottonwoods.

Controlling woody plants

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Re-establishing native vegetation

Many native species can re-establish from existing seed banks and roots if undesirable plants are controlled. Desirable plants can also be seeded or transplanted after controlling invasive species.

Planting grasses can reduce buckthorn seedlings while allowing desirable native species to establish. To prevent erosion, plant a grass mix of creeping red fescue, oats or Virginia wild rye after removing buckthorn. 

Consider planting native shrubs such as high-bush cranberry, nannyberry, chokecherry, pagoda dogwood, gray dogwood, elderberry, American hazelnut and black chokeberry.

Cost share programs

There may be local, watershed, state or federal cost share programs available for landowners to control invasive species on their property and re-plant the treated area.

Contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office for more details. Local conservation organizations may also support invasive species control projects.

Gary Wyatt, Extension educator; Mike Reichenbach, Extension educator; Angie Gupta, Extension educator; Roger Becker, Extension educator; Diomy Zamora, Extension educator and Mark Renz, Extension weed specialist, University of Wisconsin.

Reviewed in 2018

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