Coming straight from the Carroll County Forestry Board by way of Bethany Slaughter, here are some great tips on how to identify and control Japanese Barberry in Maryland, as well as the ways in which it threatens our local ecology.
Barberry is native to China and Japan, then was introduced as an ornamental plant. The seeds are eaten by mammals and birds, spreading it throughout the eastern U.S. The berries of this plant are also edible with a bitter taste and a hint of sweetness. You could try using them with other fruits in pies or jelly preserves to add a tart flavor.
How to Identify the Japanese Barberry:
The Ecological Threat:
Japanese Barberry produces a large number of seeds as well as rhizomes to form new plants that shade out and displace native species. The thorns and dense foliage also provide refuge for small mammals that host the deer tick, the carrier of Lyme and other diseases. That makes this species a human health hazard.
Japanese Barberry can tolerate a range of conditions but grows best in sunny, fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. It spreads from gardens to natural areas that are suitable for its growth and establishment.
How to Control:
Do not plant or encourage the planting of this species. Some garden supply dealers and landscapers have agreed to stop selling Japanese Barberry. When removing this species, pull out the entire plant including the roots to prevent regrowth.
Join us next week when we explore Oriental Bittersweet.