Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

300x225Introduced to the United States in the late 19th century from Japan as an ornamental shrub, Japanese Barberry quickly spread and earned the title of invasive. A spiny shrub that can grow up to 6 feet in height, though usually seen shorter, it has pale yellow flowers and bright red berries. Narrow, roughly inch-long oval to spatula-shaped leaves, which are usually green but can be seen in shades of dark red, cover the branches as well as straight single spines that make it difficult to deal with.

What makes this plant a problem is the fact that it crowds out herbaceous/woody shrubs that would often be native. Its leaf litter is also capable of changing the pH of the soil to become more basic if present in large enough amounts. Cutting alone does not work to remove this plant, as runners and branches capable of rooting make it easily persistent. Pulling can be effective as long as the main root and any runners are dug up. Repeated cutting with application of herbicides can be effective if done properly.300x225 2

Native alternatives to Japanese Barberry are: Bayberry, Highbush Blueberry, Chokeberry, American Cranberry Bush, Virginia Sweetspire, and Common Winterberry.