Winter 2009


Weed it & Reap

Have You Seen This Weed?

Japanese Barberry

japanese barberry

Alias:  Berberis thunbergii

Last Seen: Escaping from backyards, shopping plazas and industrial parks into our native forests. This invader grows so densely that other plants have a difficult time surviving in its presence. Very common at nurseries, home improvement stores and other places where plants are sold, except in states like Massachusetts, which has prohibited the sale of this plant.

Description: This shrub grows 2 to 8 feet tall and its branches are covered by many small needlelike spines. Leaves range in color from green to purple. Bright red berries appear in late summer and stay on branches throughout the winter. Birds and small mammals eat the berries, spreading the seeds over great distances.

Jessica holding a box turtle

A Prickly Situation: While some people debate the invasiveness of Japanese barberry cultivars, it may be best to avoid planting these shrubs just to be on the safe side. There are plenty of native shrubs out there to choose from. To learn more about Japanese barberry and how to eliminate it from your landscape, visit
the NPS Fact Sheet . 

-- Text & illustration by Jessica Sprajcar, Natural Resource Program Specialist, DCNR Office of Conservation Science




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