En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 22, 2014

From: Enfield, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Control of non-native invasive Japanese Barberry from Enfield NH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently bought a home that is bordered by woods and a sizable area of invasive Japanese Barberry growing on a steep hill in and around a stone wall making it that much harder to dig up. I've always been a fan of gardening with native plants and want this painfully thorny plant gone. What's the best way to remove the barberry without hurting surrounding vegetation or at the very least minimizing the damage? I'm worried it will multiply faster than I can remove it by hand particularly due to the difficult terrain.

ANSWER:

Since this plant is not native to North America, it is obviously out of our area of expertise, and we have no information on it. However, it can be easily disliked by us anyway.

From the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group LEAST WANTED Japanese Barberry. We don't think we could say a single thing that would make our feelings any more clear than what is said in this article. From that site:

"Japanese barberry has been reported to be invasive in twenty states and the District of Columbia. Due to its ornamental interest, barberry is still widely propagated and sold by nurseries for landscaping purposes in many parts of the U.S."

"Japanese barberry was introduced to the U.S. and New England as an ornamental plant in 1875 in the form of seeds sent from Russia to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts. Japanese barberry spreads by seed and by vegetative expansion. Barberry produces large numbers of seeds which have a high germination rate, estimated as high as 90%. Barberry seed is transported to new locations with the help of birds (e.g., turkey and ruffed grouse) and small mammals which eat it. Birds frequently disperse seed while perched on powerlines or on trees at forest edges. Vegetative spread is through branches touching the ground that can root to form new plants and root fragments remaining in the soil that can sprout to form new plants."

When you scroll down that page, you will find excellent Management advice, but it is not going to be easy. We urge you not to use sprays as they can disperse to harm more desirable plants, even animals, like people. The first thing we recommend you get is a long-handled pruner, with very healthy cutting edges. When we say long-handled, we mean one that you can stand erect and use, as your back is going to be in enough pain as it is, and you sure want to stay away from those thorns. As the referenced article points out, you want to prevent it from seeding out however you can, all year round. Cut off the seeding heads and dispose of them where they won't be available to birds for dispersal, nor can be washed onto new ground by rain. Again, that long handled cutter will come in handy.

Now, to get at the root of the matter (pun intended.) Starting from the outer edges of the infestation and using the pruner, cut a plant's root off as close to the ground as possible. Immediately, using a long-handled sponge disposable paintbrush, paint that cut root with an undiluted wide-spectrum herbicide. You need to do this quickly because that cut area is attempting to heal over to protect the very root you are trying to kill. Do this with every branch or trunk that sticks itself out of the ground, as well as branches touching the ground because the plant can sprout from those, too.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Fragrant native plants for San Antonio, TX
August 19, 2009 - I live in San Antonio, Texas, and I am re-landscaping my backyard after my dog ate some of the beautiful blooming oleander and had to spend some time at the vet's. My backyard is my sanctuary, and it...
view the full question and answer

Natural barrier for sheep in England
July 26, 2008 - Hi I am trying to find a plant that sheep will not eat to use as a natural barrier to keep sheep out of my R/C model flying clubs flying field.It will have to be a couple of feet tall and be a long li...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for southwest side of house in Birmingham, AL
April 18, 2009 - I would like to know what I can plant on the southwest side of my house where there is a brick foundation and is really hot in the summer. I've tried irises and day lilies-not good. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Possible damage by invasive, non-native earthworms in compost
January 03, 2007 - I received a worm bin (vermicomposter) for Christmas. The instructions that came with the bin say to use the red wiggler worm (Eisenia foetida) and that it is okay if some of the worms go into your g...
view the full question and answer

Plants purchased at Duke Gardens From Durham NC
April 09, 2013 - I went to the plant sale at a local garden this week and bought some very small plants. I am happy to wait for plants to grow but wondered if I need to do anything special. I live in Durham NC and...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center