What is this invasive thorny shrub?

Asked April 7, 2016, 11:41 AM EDT

Good morning. I used to think this thorny was European buckthorn but after looking at pictures, it is not but perhaps you can help me identify this and look at the uploaded pictures. This shrub is shorter and smaller that a buckthorn. Thank you, Jared

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi Jared,

Thank you for sending the photos. It is difficult to tell without seeing leaves or any plants with berry clusters remaining. Some of the trees in the photo look like buckthorn bark and branching structure, if cut branch exposes yellow sapwood and orange heartwood, as described in this DNR link, that may help with dormant ID.

Hawthorn is a possibility. It is a tree-like shrub, usually thorny and with simple, alternate, toothed leaves (often coarsely, doubly serrate). Flowers white, and the fruits resembling small apples in large clusters.

Or Prickly Ash, Tall shrub (up to 10') with a pair of stout spines below each leaf.

It does not look like Prickly Gooseberry, those are shorter, slender sticks that look like a raspberry stem.

After a bark test watch the leaves this spring for a more positive ID.