Buckbrush Control in Pasture

Buckbrush Control in Pasture

June 19, 2009

Buckbrush (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) is a native weed common in northeast Nebraska in rangeland, woodland, ravines and near streams. Heavy stands can reduce grass production as much as 80%, especially in dry years, and should be controlled.

Description and Life Cycle

Buckbrush is a perennial forb that reproduces both by seeds and rhizome. Rhizome is a horizontal creeping root system growing within 2-12 inches of top soil. Rhizome can access soil moisture from a deeper profile at a much faster rate than fibrous roots of pasture grasses, giving buckbrush the competitive advantage over grass, especially in dry years.

Buckbrush plants usually start growing in sparse groups (patches or clusters) and then spread further if not controlled. The stem is erect, 2-6 feet tall, brown, and somewhat smooth with many branches. Leaves are opposite and elliptic to ovate with pointed tips. Like many other plant species, the overall growth and development depends on the amount and timing of rainfall.

Buchbrush blooms from July to August with greenish-white to purple flowers. Buckbrush can provide forage for deer early in the season and fruit for upland game birds, wild turkeys, and songbirds. Buckbrush has no value to livestock because of its low palatability.

Control Options

Biological, mechanical, and chemical options are available for buckbrush control.

  • Goats and sheep can reduce stands of buckbrush considerably if confined to the area.
  • A single mowing of new 1-2 foot tall plants can reduce buckbrush populations, especially in dry years. Additional mowing will be needed in wet years. Mowing can also help remove the previous year's growth to prepare the site for broadcast applications of herbicides.
  • Herbicides are the most effective tools in providing season long control. Apply herbicide when new growth is 6-12 inches tall. Effective herbicides and their rates include:
    • 2,4-D-Ester (2-3 qt/ac)
    • Grazon P+D (1-2 qt/ac)
    • Telar (1.0 oz/ac)
    • mix of Cimarron (0.25 oz/ac ) with WeedMaster (16 oz/ac)
    • mix of Cimarron with RangeStar (16 oz/ac)
    • Cimarron (Ally, Escort) used alone at 0.5 oz/ac.

Stevan Knezevic, Extension Weeds Specialist
Haskell Agricultural Laboratory, Concord