Background Image

Who We Are

Educational Materials Teach Residents How to Remove Buckthorn

October 10, 2022 10:32 AM

In response to growing community interest in controlling invasive species, the Lake County Forest Preserves developed a library of free resources that support efforts to eradicate common or European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica). Growing up to 22 feet tall, buckthorn is a non-native, invasive shrub or tree that harms native plants and wildlife. The educational materials were designed to support residents and landowners through the process of removing the species from their property.

These free, easy-to-use resources can be accessed at and They include:

  • Articles offering detailed educational information about buckthorn.
  • Videos demonstrating how to identify and remove buckthorn shrubs.
  • Guides for applying herbicide and for selecting appropriate native replacement plants.
  • Before-and-after photos showing the visual impact of buckthorn removal on a property.
  • Resources to help residents advocate for removal of buckthorn among their neighbors.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about buckthorn removal and replacement.
  • Opportunities to volunteer with the Forest Preserves on invasive species removal projects. 

Buckthorn spreads quickly across property lines, creating dense thickets that overwhelm natural areas. It can reinvade cleared habitats if left untreated on adjacent property. To help address this issue, the Forest Preserves launched a Buckthorn Eradication Pilot Project in 2015. Its mission is to clear buckthorn from Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve in Lake Forest and the surrounding landscape by encouraging about 700 public and private landowners to participate.

Once a homeowner has cleared the species from their property, they can request a “Buckthorn-Free” garden flag. Each 12.5"x18" flag is made of weather-resistant vinyl and comes with a three-foot-tall wrought iron stand, two rubber stoppers and an anti-wind clip. Staff at the Forest Preserves designed the original watercolor artwork. Flags are offered free of charge to anyone in Lake County, thanks to a grant from the Preservation Foundation, the charitable partner of the Lake County Forest Preserves. To apply for a flag, residents must complete a brief form on the Forest Preserves' website. 

Municipalities, homeowners associations and community groups seeking to partner with the Forest Preserves in distribution of the educational materials should contact

“Lake County residents understand that controlling buckthorn is a collective effort, and they are excited to contribute to our mission of preserving the county’s natural landscapes,” said Pati Vitt, director of natural resources with the Lake County Forest Preserves. “We’ve been working closely with homeowners that want to clear buckthorn, but don't know how. These resources were designed directly in response to that need.”

Developing resources for landowners supports objectives to eliminate buckthorn on Forest Preserve property and to reduce buckthorn by 50% across Lake County by 2050.


Media Contact: Brett Peto, Environmental Communications Specialist,, 847-968-3151