Managing Japanese Barberry

Managing Japanese barberry is a royal pain, but it may be one of the best health protective landscape management tasks one can undertake.

Those who have followed this blog over the years likely remember many of the posts on how Japanese barberry is taking over many areas of Connecticut’s woodlands and how Japanese barberry creates a perfect environment for ticks and mice.

It’s hard to find a Connecticut resident who has not had a bout of Lyme disease or another tick-related disease. Now, there’s another disease – Powassan virus – linked to black-legged ticks. While no human cases of Powassan virus have yet been identified in Connectucut, if it is transmitted by black-legged ticks it’s only a matter of time.

The increasing disease risk from black-legged ticks makes controlling Japanese barberry even more important. I outlined various control methods in previous posts – linked above.


Serious stands of Japanese barberry, like the one above, may require heavy equipment, like a brush hog, followed by repeated control methods of regrowth. But regular control is the only way to eradicate Japanese barberry from a property.

A property walk now, when Japanese barberry is one of the only leafed-out under story shrubs, identifies how much and where this invasive shrub is growing. If you are fortunate, as in my case, to have little Japanese barberry invasion on your acreage you can use my control method – pulling out young, and still small, shoots and leaving them on a nearby rock or fallen tree to dehydrate and die.

small Japanese barberry

small Japanese barberry

This is the method I used with yesterday’s finds in the woods.

Japanese barberry roots and stem

Japanese barberry roots and stem

But, this area needs to be revisited one or two times throughout the growing season, and definitely in early autumn, to watch for and control re-sprouts from any left-over roots in the ground. Japanese barberry is known to re-sprout with vengeance. Subsequent Japanese barberry walks help identify any shrubs/sprouts previously missed.

If Japanese barberry is growing anywhere on your property – but particularly anywhere near your house – do yourself, your family, and Connecticut’s woodlands a huge service … remove it and control its return.


More on tick-borne diseases at A Way to Garden

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Japanese Barberry Control Methods


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3 comments for “Managing Japanese Barberry

  1. May 4, 2015 at 9:08 am

    We have more problem with Tartarian honeysuckle and multiflora rose. I have never seen barberry take over a clearing as it has in your picture, but I have seen it with the two shrubs I mentioned. Nevertheless, I removed all the barberry landscaping from around our house, because I did find seedlings growing in a neglected area near the house. And we have our share of ticks!

    • May 4, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Kathy, We also have multiflora rose in the woods, along with winged euonymus, but neither have been found to have the same tick-mouse-disease connection. You were very proactive in removing all your barberry. I wish more gardeners, homeowners, and property managers did the same.

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