Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Bah Bah Barberry
Doing a bit of field work the next day or two, so until the next meaty post, here is a photo of Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea.' Because we all need a few more naturalized cultivars in our lives ;-).
So are all cultivars of barberry bad and are they bad in all regions? Do I dig them out of my Zone 5 garden where they are such a pretty contrast to Alchemilla vulgaris (lady's mantle). The barberry seems relatively harmless compared to my battles with garlic mustard, wild roses and russian olive.
While I cannot speak for all barberry cultivars nor all places where they are planted, I have now seen Atropurpurea seeding into two sites in New England. That is more than enough for me to not want to see it planted further.
As to whether you should pull it out, I recommend at least checking whether your state has barberry on an invasive plant list - a few states even explicitly address cultivars and varieties on those lists.
I am actually completing a master's thesis on this species. I have also seen atropurpurea seeding at one of my field sites and it behaves just as aggressively as the green-leaved variety on the site. You can actually see a line of purple out across the fields from the woman's house who planted it. I would say dig it up!
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