Battling buckthorn

Contractors fight the invasive species that has taken over the SCAET entrance


Jenn Dickinson displays the woodchipper.

Jenn Dickinson displays the woodchipper.

Trafalgar Campus’ ecosystem is getting a makeover as contractors fight the invasive species known as buckthorn.

The thorn is a threat to Sheridan’s ecosystem. It surrounds the existing plant life, traps it and the vegetation dies. Sheridan has trees, which are swamped with buckthorn and have no room to grow. Buckthorn is very hard to get rid of once it’s established. Buckthorn, also known as rhamnus, is an invasive species of Asian origins.

Sheridan’s sustainability office called in professionals to attack the species so the college can eventually have a healthy ecosystem.

“The buckthorn is aggressive and has overwhelmed the ecosystem in this area. It’s become chaos,” said Jenn Dickinson, a contractor for Wildwood Tree Service.

Contractors started tackling the buckthorn at 8:30 last Friday morning and spent the whole day clearing the overgrown area.

Once the buckthorn is removed, it is thrown into a woodchipper and recycled into topsoil.

Will Dillellio and Jenn Dickinson preparing to cut the buckthorn.

Will Dillellio and Jenn Dickinson preparing to cut the buckthorn.

“We’re cutting the buckthorn as low to the ground as possible so we can grind the stumps down evenly with the earth,” said Will Dillellio, apprentice arborist and contractor at Wildwood Tree Services.

Buckthorn has suffocated the plants that used to live in this area. It’s now filled with litter. Buckthorn also produces small inedible blackberries, which are unhealthy for birds and squirrels.

“Southern Ontario has a very big problem with buckthorn, we consider it invasive plant No. 1,” said Giuliana Casimirri, executive director of Oakville Green.

“This path stood out to us and has dominated the majority of growth in front of the main entrance of the SCAET wing.”

Oakville Green is a not-for-profit environmental advocacy group looking to increase biodiversity in the town of Oakville.

The invasive species produce a great deal of seeds that spread and take over its next patch of land.

“In order for Sheridan’s biodiversity to prosper, we have a responsibility to take care of it,” said Wai Chu Cheng, Sheridan’s sustainability coordinator.

A new garden will be planted in place of the buckthorn next spring. Sheridan’s sustainability office is accepting input for the new garden.

“We’d like to invite anyone with ideas to participate in the project of creating a beautiful native garden,” said Cheng.

For more information on participating on the rebuild of Sheridan’s garden, email Wai Chu at