As residents of Cobmoosa Shores, we hope you will help your Association Board and your neighbors maintain our natural surroundings by protecting our native species. Two ways to do this: remove invasive plant species from your property when you find them and landscape with native species whenever possible.
To help in this effort, we will be producing several short, educational articles on invasive plants. We hope you will learn to identify these and remove them whenever possible from your property. We are planning to set days aside for volunteers to get together to remove some of the worst invaders on Cobmoosa property, but in the meantime, we can all start with our own backyards.
What is an Invasive Plant?
An invasive plant can be defined as any plant that is not native to the ecosystem under consideration, and that once introduced, has the potential to cause or causes harm to that area’s environment, economy, and/or human health.
Today’s Featured Invasive: Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii).
Japanese barberry is a deciduous shrub native to Japan. Like many non-native species in the United States, it escaped from cultivation after being introduced into this country for ornamental purposes.
- can grow to about 1-2 m (3-6 ft)
- has clustered, spoon-shaped leaves and spiny branches
- after pollination, the pale yellow, 6-petaled flowers will produce red berries.
Japanese barberry thrives in a wide range of habitats from shaded to sunny, dry to moist, and thus can spread beyond the garden to invade pastures, woodlands, roadsides, and so on. Birds also spread its fruit/seeds. Animals will not browse this thorny shrub, and it becomes dense and shades out native plants.
Other Negative Qualities
Japanese barberry not only shades out native plants, its dense canopy can create a moist microhabitat at the soil level which encourages increases of blacklegged ticks which can carry Lyme disease. Dense accumulations of its leaf litter can alter soil chemistry which also negatively impacts native species.
This shrub can be manually removed without too much difficulty either while it is a seedling or while it is a young shrub simply by pulling it up or by digging it up. It is shallow-rooted and provides little resistance while young. In areas where it is densely growing, other means might have to be used to remove the shrub such as repeated mechanical mowing or cutting. Using herbicides is not recommended except under highly controlled circumstances to avoid loss of native vegetation found in the same areas.
After removal of individual plants, put them in a plastic bag to completely dry out before composting because this species can root from branch tips and root crowns can resprout. If fruit is present, make sure it is either bagged until dry or burned.
Native alternatives to plant
- Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
- Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica)