Make Common Buckthorn, uncommon.

We are a collection of volunteers in Lake County, Illinois, with the goal of removing buckthorn from public and private lands.

About Us

Starting each spring and ending late winter, we organize buckthorn removal group outings within Lake County at specific locations.  We work closely with the Lake County Parks Department prior to any outing, to ensure proper permission is granted.  Upon request, we may also setup removal projects on private properties, if the size warrants it.  For more details on what to expect from an outing, click below.

Acres of buckthorn cleared in 2022

What is buckthorn & why remove it?

Common Buckthorn (European Buckthorn) is a non-native species to the North America.  It was brought over from Europe in the early 1800s, and mainly used as an ornamental hedge for privacy.  The plant quickly spread, and invaded our natural areas.

Outcompetes Native Plants

With its fast growth, and ability to leaf out earlier in the spring and hold onto its leaves until early winter, it grows when most native species are dormant.

Wildlife Impact

To butterflies, birds, and bees, a forest overtaken by buckthorn is equivalent to a desert – providing few if any nutrients.  Since native predators don’t consume the plant, this adds to the difficulty in curbing its growth.


Buckthorn shades out plants that grow on the forest floor, contributing to soil erosion.  Native groundcover that normally stabilizes soil and helps absorb rainwater cannot do their job.

Elizabeth Davies

Grayslake Trustee

“It's surprisingly a great way to spend time with your neighbors, while simultaneously helping out the environment. It brings me great joy to be part of this project!”

What we need

Our park districts have staff that remove buckthorn on park district property, but it is difficult to staff these teams appropriately to keep up with this aggressive plant.  Therefore, volunteers from the private sector that supplement our park districts are required to make significant progress.  We aim to have 2 outings per month during the buckthorn growing seasons, and we need volunteers to help us stop the spread.

Michael Canino

Lake County Resident, Founder Uncommon Buckthorn

“When I discovered the impact that buckthorn is having on our lands, I felt that I had to contribute. If we do not act, this plant has the ability to quickly negatively impact the beauty and diversity of Lake County.”