ACADIA NATL’ PARK— When surrounded by the beauty of the Acadia National Park, it might be hard to imagine that an invasive threat could be steps away. But that is the case with glossy buckthorn, a single stem, or, at times, small shrub, composed of bright, glossy leaves with a dull underside that can grow to 20 feet.
Over the last decade, the park has worked to gain control over the invasive species.
Jesse Wheeler, exotic plant management program leader at Acadia National Park, says that the glossy buckthorn poses a threat to both animals and native plants because of its dense thickets. The bush spreads rapidly due to its ability to adapt in both wet environments and thick leaves in deep woods with low fire activity.
In Acadia, this means that glossy buckthorn can start just about anywhere and spread for miles. Traveling critters that consume its toxic berries and bark are responsible for the spread of glossy buckthorn to random locations around the island.
Local tourist attractions such as Cadillac Mountain, Beaver Dam, Bear Brook, Otter Creek, Kebo Brook, Great Meadow and many other areas, were all found to have been infested with the plant.
In order for the park to conserve its natural habitat, said Wheeler, the park has gone to great lengths to keep the intrusive shrub from getting out of hand. Mount Desert Island’s hemlock trees, winterberries, speckled alder, highbush blueberries, moss, grey birch trees and water biomes simply cannot compete.
Wheeler, added, “It’s certainly one of the most problematic [invasive species in the park.]” The most effective ways park rangers have found to eradicate it from areas is by cutting it down and using hand saws to then remove the stump ends rooted in the soil.
To learn more about glossy buckthorn, visit the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry at maine.gov/dacf/.