Invasive Species: Japanese Barberry

This week, February 20-26 2023, is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. This week aims to shed light on the impacts, prevention measures, and invasive species control as well as organizations that work to maintain sustainable, biodiverse ecosystems.

Unfortunately, controlling invasive species can be costly and time consuming; therefore, it is common to see these plants left unmanaged. Other individuals, however, may not be aware that species such as Japanese Barberry are actually destructive invasive plants as they can be misleading in their colorful appearance.

While there are a couple different ways one could treat an invasive plant, the method we prefer at Steigerwaldt includes cutting the plant and applying herbicides (triclopyr-4).

This two-step method of treatment is important. If the plants cut down without any herbicide treatment, they are able to re-sprout relatively quickly, requiring constant maintenance of the area to keep them at bay. With the addition of applying herbicide to the freshly cut stems, the root system is destroyed as well, preventing the plant from sprouting again in the future.

Thankfully, many of the areas we treat are funded completely or partially by government entities to help assist in stopping the spread of invasive species such as the Japanese Barberry. This financial support allows Steigerwaldt the continuation of this service and helps us do our part to support biodiversity and the elimination and containment of harmful invasive species.

One of the many invasive plant species we treat here at Steigerwaldt Land Services is the Japanese Barberry.

Japanese Barberry is a low-growing thorny shrub with small green oval leaves that turn reddish-brown in the fall. The invasive plant was first brought to the United States back in 1875 when it was shipped from Russia to Boston, where it spread quickly across the US.

Japanese Barberry is considered an invasive species because of how they have a competitive advantage over native plants as there is no wildlife which grazes on the plant because of its spiky thorns. Japanese Barberry can also be a problem as it is an ideal plant for ticks to use for cover. With how dense the plant can grow, this creates a great condition for ticks, as Japanese Barberry is able to produce ideal humid conditions that ticks prefer. Japanese Barberry can also raise the pH levels in the soil in which a large cluster of the plant is present.

-Andrew Baranowski, Environmental Specialist and Austin Schoen, Environmental Project Manager