Buckthorn is a troublesome, invasive tree that forms dense thickets and crowds other plants. When it’s cut down, it springs back and sends out many offshoots.

Autumn Sabo, an instructor for a forest ecology class led by Phil Townsend, knows about the troublesome trees all too well. After past classes cut buckthorn from a section of Picnic Point, resprouts ran rampant making it difficult for students to do their work. Sabo complained about the buckthorn to teaching assistant Alex Brito, and he found a solution: Buckthorn Baggies.

The heavy, black plastic bags cover the buckthorn stump depriving it of light and preventing resprouts without chemicals or uprooting. To make the product even more appealing to Sabo and the ecology class, the inventor is on campus.

Engineering senior Matthew Hamilton came up with the Buckthorn Baggies as a high school student and had been perfecting them while at UW-Madison. Sabo invited Hamilton to the class so he could demonstrate how to place and secure the bags, giving students a respite from the troublesome trees.

Read more about Buckthorn Baggies in this UW-Madison news release.

Banner photo: Members of UW–Madison’s Forest and Wildlife Ecology 551 class gaze at resprouted buckthorn trees. Matthew Hamilton (in red cap) explains how his invention, the Buckthorn Baggie, can kill this invasive species and prevent resprouting. Photo: David Tenenbaum