Blue Heron landscape Design | Invasive Plants: Japanese Barberry

Invasive Plants: Japanese Barberry

17 May Invasive Plants: Japanese Barberry

There are times of the year when it is easier to understand the invasive tendencies of certain plants. Spring is such a time with Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii.

Japanese Barberry up close.

Here in Connecticut, before most of the woodland foliage emerges, you can easily see how prevalent it is. Once established it quickly spreads, over taking and eliminating most other vegetation, including valuable native plants. These photos were taken from the roadside looking into  McLean Game Refuge in Granby, CT. As you can see it is well established and spreading.

Another troubling issue with Japanese Barberry, is its relationship with and eventual effect on Deer Tick populations and a subsequent rise in the instance of Lyme disease. Debbie over at A Garden of Possibilities covered this topic in 2009 in a post entitled ‘The Surprising Relationship Between Lyme Disease and Japanese Barberry’, a very interesting read.

The Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association recently agreed to enact a voluntary phasing out and eventual ban of 25 cultivars of Barberry in the state. You can read more about that here. This is good news, and one can only hope that similar actions will be taken towards other threats, such as Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus), a plant I wrote about in a post entitled ‘Invasive Fall Color’.

We are making great strides in the awareness of invasive plants, but we have a long way to go. For more information, and for a complete list of plants considered to be invasive in Connecticut, please visit the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group.

Knowledge is power, and with power comes change.

All the best!


  • Debbie
    Posted at 10:12h, 17 May Reply

    Scott, Thanks for the mention. Your photos certainly are graphic proof of how widespread the Japanese barberries are. Here in my area of southwestern CT, we seem to have lots more winged euonymus but you don’t really notice them in the woods until they start to turn red in the fall and then it’s overwhelming how many of them there are.

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