This plant won’t be sold, cultivated in Pa. much longer

Pennsylvania
Japanese barberry

Japanese barberry (Source: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

(WKBN) – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is beginning to enforce its ban on a plant that will not be able to be legally sold or cultivated in the state.

On Oct. 8, The department added Japanese Barberry, or Berberis thunbergii, to its list of “noxious weeds,” banning its sale and cultivation.

Enforcement of the ban will be phased in over two years to allow time for nurseries to eliminate it from their stock and find alternatives, however.

Japanese barberry was originally brought to the U.S. from Japan and eastern Asia in the 1800s to be planted as an ornamental. It is widely used as a landscape shrub because of its fall coloring and resistance to deer.

There are issues with the plant, however. According to the Department of Agriculture, its dense, prickly thickets crowd out plants and disrupt native ecosystems. The plant is also thought to harbor black-legged ticks that spread Lyme disease.

“Many seemingly attractive plants can actually harm our environment, our food supply and our health,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Pennsylvania does not take banning the sale of a plant lightly. Prevention is the best alternative — choosing native plants that harbor pollinators and allow a healthy, natural ecosystem. Carefully considering the potential impact of what we plant can prevent lasting damage that is difficult, expensive or impossible to reverse.”

Nursery and landscape businesses will receive notices this month, advising them to immediately begin adjusting propagation, ordering and planting of Japanese barberry to decrease inventory.

In the fall of next year, the Department of Agriculture will issue letters of warning to any plant merchant still selling Japanese barberry.

The following year, the department will issue “stop sale” and destruction orders to merchants still selling the plant.

Merchants with questions should contact ra-plant@pa.gov.

The department says property owners should also consider eliminating the shrubs on their land.

Also on Oct. 8, the department added two other plants to the noxious weed list: garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, and Japanese stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum. These plants are generally not sold in nurseries but are invasive and common in Pennsylvania. Landowners with these plants on their property are encouraged to remove them.

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