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  • (Photo: Jil M. Swearingen, USDI National Park Service, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Fruit (Photo: Barry Rice, sarracenia.com, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Foliage (Photo: Britt Slattery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, www.forestryimages.org)
  • Flowers (Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, www.forestryimages.org)
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Common name
Japanese barberry (English), crimson pygmy (English)
Synonym
Berberis thunbergii , var. atropurpurea (Chenault)
Berberis thunbergii , var. maximowiczii
Berberis thunbergii , var. minor
Similar species
Berberis vulgaris, Berberis canadensis
Summary
Berberis thunbergii is a shrub native to Japan. When introduced it can invade a variety of habitats from damp lowlands to dry roadsides and waste places. This species forms dense stands in a variety of these habitats, including closed canopy forests and open woodlands, wetlands, pastures and meadows. Berberis thunbergii is highly shade-tolerant and displaces a variety of native herb and shrub species in areas where it becomes well established. Manual hand-pulling is a favoured method of control as the species is easily unearthed. Chemical and mechanical methods are also often employed, depending on site conditions.
Species Description
Berberis thunbergii is described as a compact, spiny shrub that commonly grows 0.6 - 0.9m tall (although it can grow up to 1.8m in height). Roots are shallow but tough. The smooth-edged leaves range from oval to spatulate in shape and are clustered in tight bunches close to the branches. The single spines bear small leaves in their axils. Yellow flowers bloom in May, are about one third of an inch wide, and are solitary or in small clusters of 2-4 blossoms. The bright-red fruits mature in mid-summer and hang from the bush during autumn and into winter. The berries are small, oblong, and found singly or in clusters (WDNR, 2004).
Notes
The Nature Conservancy (1996) states that, \"Berberis thunbergii was discovered in the mountains of Japan and sent to St. Petersburg Botanic Gardens by the Russian botanist Carl Maximowicz in 1864. About 1875, seeds from St. Petersburg were received at the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts and, from there, introduced to North America.\" From there Swearingen et al. (2002) adds that, \"In 1896, it was planted at the New York Botanic Garden.\" Silander and Klepeis (1999) report that, \"By 1920 the planting of B. thunbergii was encouraged as an ornamental shrub replacing the common barberry (Berberis vulgaris).\"
Lifecycle Stages
The Nature Conservancy (1996) states that, \"Berberis thunbergii flowers in May and the fruits hang from the shrubs during the fall and into the winter. In autumn, the leaves of B. thunbergii turn varying shades of orange, red, and crimson. The woody stems of this shrub persist through the winter.\"
Uses
Ehrenfeld (1997) reports that, \"Berberis thunbergii has recently become a favoured landscaping species because of the unpalatability of its foliage to deer.\" Tsuji and Takatsuki et al. (2004) documented on Kinkazan Island of Northern Japan that Macaca fuscata (Japanese macaque) prefers B. thunbergii as a food source. Kourtev et al., 1998 speculate that, \"B. thunbergii may stimulate localised increases in earthworm populations, and these localised increases may then cause localised increases in pH through a reduction in orgnaic acid inputs as the litter and organic horizons are incorporated, and through a net upward movement of base-rich soil material in casts of endogeic species. If localised increase in pH then stimulated increased nitrification, a positive feedback loop would be established in which B. thunbergii and earthworms mutually facilitate each other.\"
Habitat Description
Berberis thunbergii can be found along roadsides, fences, old fields and open woods. It is known to tolerate a variety of habitats from damp lowlands to dry roadsides and waste places. Populations do not expand rapidly into oak-dominant forests or on extreme north-facing slopes.
Reproduction
Lebuhn and Anderson (1994) characterise Berberis thunbergii's method of reproduction as \"Anther Tripping\". The authors state that, \"Stamens of B. thunbergii respond to a tactile stimulus by snapping toward the stigma. When filaments are stimulated, anthers strike an object and deposit pollen on the creature.\" Lebuhn and Anderson (1994) continue on to report that, \"The anthers can re-cock and strike again, resulting in a pattern of diminishing proportional pollen removal as anthers are tripped over and over.\" Silander and Klepeis (1999) report that, \"Fruit production varies with light level, but even under very low light levels (4% full sun) some seeds are produced. Fruits are dispersed in late fall through late winter. Seed dispersal curves are highly leptokurtic; most seedlings re found under or adjacent to adults, but a small number may be found tens of metres from the nearest adult.\" IPANE (2001) states that, \"The fruit of B. thunbergii are dispersed by birds, which are most often ground birds such as turkey and grouse. Small mammals can also contribute to their dispersal.\" The WDNR (2004) states that, \"Branches root freely when they touch the ground; thus allowing single plants to become quite large.\"
Nutrition
Silander and Klepeis (1999) report that, \"Berberis thunbergii thrives under a broad range of light and soil moisture conditions. Significant variation in stem growth can be explained as a function of light level. Even at less than 1% full sun, some positive stem growth can occur. Survival is quite high at intermediate to high light levels, and only under the lowest light levels (<1% full sun) does survival drop significantly. Biomass of B. thunbergii in field plots can be largely explained as a function of light availability and soil moisture. The biomass of co-occurring species is suppressed by B. thunbergii, and recovery is slow in the first year following B. thunbergii removal except under high light levels.\" Ness (1996) states reports that B. thunbergii requires partial shade to full sun, and can tolerate moisture levels anywhere from wet, to moist, and even dry. It can thrive on sandy, loam, or clay soil types within a pH range of 3.7 to 6.2. Cassidy et al. (2004) report that B. thunbergii is very responsive to nitrogen availability. In a forest understory, this species was able to increase productivity with increasing nitrogen availability. The observed response was a result of increased photosynthesis at the leaf level and altered biomass allocation patterns at the whole plant level (Harrington et al. 2004).
Pathway
The Nature Conservancy (1996) reports that B. thunbergii was discovered in the mountains of Japan and sent to St. Petersburg Botanic Gardens by the Russian botanist Carl Maximowicz in 1864. About 1875, seeds from St. Petersburg were received at the Arnold Arboretum in Massachussetts and, from there, introduced to North America. Swearingen et al. (2002) adds that,B. thunbergii was planted at the New York Botanic Garden in 1896.

Principal source: Berberis thunbergii The Nature Conservancy, 1996.

Compiler: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: Dr. Robin Harrington. Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources Conservation. University of Massachusetts. USA

Publication date: 2005-01-24

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2016) Species profile: Berberis thunbergii. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=592 on 25-08-2016.

General Impacts
Berberis thunbergii is a popular ornamental plant and is present in gardens, parks, forests, and nature preserves. Its seeds are dispersed by birds and it is known to tolerate dense shade. When it escapes into natural areas its highly shade tolerant nature helps it to form dense stands in a variety of habitats, including closed canopy forests and open woodlands, wetlands, pastures, meadows and wastelands and dispace native herb and shrub species.
Management Info
Mechanical: Mechanical removal of Berberis thunbergii is recommended because it is effective and minimally intrusive. In early spring, this is one of the first plants to leaf out and can be distinguished easily from other shrubby vegetation. The use of a hoe, weed wrench, or mattock is suggested to uproot the entire bush and associated roots; gloves will help protect hands from the spines (The Nature Conservancy, 1996). The Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual (2003) reports that, hand pulling is effective for small populations of B. thunbergii, since plants pull up easily in most forested habitats. Hand pulling is an extremely effective method of reducing population and seed productivity; and it can be done during most of the year. If plants have fruit present, they should be bagged and disposed of to prevent seed dispersal. Mowing and cutting is appropriate for initial small populations or environmentally sensitive areas where herbicides cannot be used. Repeated mowing or cutting will control the spread of B. thunbergii but will not eradicate it. Stems should be cut at least once per growing season as close to ground level as possible.

Chemical: Foliar Spray method should be considered for large thickets of B. thunbergii where risk to non-target species is minimal. Glyphosate and Triclopyr are suitable for this method. The Cut Stump method should be considered when treating individual bushes or where the presence of desirable species precludes foliar application. Stump treatments can be used as long as the ground is not frozen. Silander and Klepeis (1999) concur that, Glyphosate (Roundup) applied in early spring at first leaf out, when little else is in leaf, provides an effective means of eradicating B. thunbergii populations. Ehrenfeld (1997) comments that, as B. thunbergii is a deciduous shrub, and occurs under closed canopy forest, it is not feasible to use conventional methods of remote sensing to detect its presence over large regions. The author further states that, the extensive nature of the invasion and its lack of documentation in scientific literature suggest that much more attention needs to be directed to the problem of the spread of B. thunbergii.

Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Berberis thunbergii
ALIEN RANGE
NATIVE RANGE
  • japan
Informations on Berberis thunbergii has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Berberis thunbergii in information
Status
Invasiveness
Arrival date
Occurrence
Source
Introduction
Species notes for this location
Location note
Management notes for this location
Impact
Mechanism:
Outcome:
Ecosystem services:
Impact information
Berberis thunbergii is a popular ornamental plant and is present in gardens, parks, forests, and nature preserves. Its seeds are dispersed by birds and it is known to tolerate dense shade. When it escapes into natural areas its highly shade tolerant nature helps it to form dense stands in a variety of habitats, including closed canopy forests and open woodlands, wetlands, pastures, meadows and wastelands and dispace native herb and shrub species.
Red List assessed species 0:
Mechanism
[2] Competition
Outcomes
[2] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [2] Reduction in native biodiversity
[5] Socio-Economic
  • [5] Human nuisanceĀ 
Management information
Mechanical: Mechanical removal of Berberis thunbergii is recommended because it is effective and minimally intrusive. In early spring, this is one of the first plants to leaf out and can be distinguished easily from other shrubby vegetation. The use of a hoe, weed wrench, or mattock is suggested to uproot the entire bush and associated roots; gloves will help protect hands from the spines (The Nature Conservancy, 1996). The Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual (2003) reports that, hand pulling is effective for small populations of B. thunbergii, since plants pull up easily in most forested habitats. Hand pulling is an extremely effective method of reducing population and seed productivity; and it can be done during most of the year. If plants have fruit present, they should be bagged and disposed of to prevent seed dispersal. Mowing and cutting is appropriate for initial small populations or environmentally sensitive areas where herbicides cannot be used. Repeated mowing or cutting will control the spread of B. thunbergii but will not eradicate it. Stems should be cut at least once per growing season as close to ground level as possible.

Chemical: Foliar Spray method should be considered for large thickets of B. thunbergii where risk to non-target species is minimal. Glyphosate and Triclopyr are suitable for this method. The Cut Stump method should be considered when treating individual bushes or where the presence of desirable species precludes foliar application. Stump treatments can be used as long as the ground is not frozen. Silander and Klepeis (1999) concur that, Glyphosate (Roundup) applied in early spring at first leaf out, when little else is in leaf, provides an effective means of eradicating B. thunbergii populations. Ehrenfeld (1997) comments that, as B. thunbergii is a deciduous shrub, and occurs under closed canopy forest, it is not feasible to use conventional methods of remote sensing to detect its presence over large regions. The author further states that, the extensive nature of the invasion and its lack of documentation in scientific literature suggest that much more attention needs to be directed to the problem of the spread of B. thunbergii.

Management Category
Control
Unknown
Bibliography
27 references found for Berberis thunbergii

Managment information
Ehrenfeld, J. G. 1997. Invasion of Deciduous Forest Preserves in the New York Metropolitan Region by Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) . Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 124(2): 210-215.
Summary: Scientific study documenting the spread of species through New York. Offers suggestions and on future management.
Silander, J. A., and D. M. Klepeis, 1999. (Abstract) The Invasion Ecology of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in the New England Landscape. Biological Invasions 1(2): 189.
Summary: An abstract that offers some management information and also distribution information.
Available from: http://www.kluweronline.com/article.asp?PIPS=250504&PDF=1 [Accessed 29 June 2004]
General information
Bocker R, Dirk M, 1998. Distribution and Spreading of Alien Trees and Shrubs in South Western Germany and Contributions to Germination Biology. Plant Invasions: Ecological Mechanisms and Human Responses. Eds.: Starfinger, U., Edwards, K., Kowarik, I., Williamson, M., Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands: 285-297.
Canadian Botanical Conservation Network, 2004. Information on Invasive Shrub and Vine Species: Berberis thunbergii
Summary: Available from: http://www.rbg.ca/cbcn/en/projects/invasives/i_shrub2.html#Japanese%20barberry [Accessed October 14 2004]
Christenhusz MJM, van Uffelen GA, 2001. Verwilderde Japanse planten in Nederland, ingevoerd door Von Siebold (Naturalised Japanese plants in the Netherlands, introduced by Von Siebold). Gorteria 27(5):97-108
Ehrenfeld, J. G. 1999. Structure and Dynamics of Populations of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) Biol. Invasions. 1:203-213
Hamet-Ahti L, Suominen J, Ulvinen T, Uotila P. (eds), 1998. Retkeilykasvio (Field Flora of Finland); Ed. 4. 656 pp.; Finnish Museum of Natural History, Botanical Museum. Helsinki
Harrington, R. A., J. H. Fownes, and T. M. Cassidy. 2004. Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in Forest Understory: Leaf and Whole Plant Responses to Nitrogen Availability . American Midland Naturalist 151: 206-216.
Summary: Scientific study that investigates nitrogen response of species. Also offers a basis for a theory that species and earthworms are somehow inherently connected.
Hartvig P, 2002. Forvildede vedplanter fra haver og hegn - et problem for Dansk natur? (Escaped woody garden plants - a problem in Danish nature?) Dansk Dendrologisk Arsskrift: 20:19-23.
Hosking JR, 2003. NSW Agriculture & CRC for Weed Management Systems, Tamworth.
Summary: Available from: http://nb.au.com/nswweedsoc/January2003/2.htm [Accessed October 14 2004]
Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States Database. 2003. Common Name: B. thunbergiiSoutheast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual.
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/eppc/barberry.html [Accessed 4 June 2004]
IPANE (Invasive Plant Atlas of New England). 2001. Berberis thunbergii. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut [Online Database].
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://webapps.lib.uconn.edu/ipane/browsing.cfm?descriptionid=26 [Accessed 4 June 2004]
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2004. Online Database Berberis thunbergii
Summary: An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from: http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=18835 [Accessed December 31 2004]
Kourtev, P. S., J. G. Ehrenfeld, and W. Z. Huang. 1998. Effects of Exotic Plant Species on Soil Properties in Hardwood Forests of New Jersey. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 105: 493-501.
Summary: Research paper that discusses the srpead of species through New Jersey and its impacts on soil properties.
Lebuhn, G., and G. J. Anderson. 1994. Anther Tripping and Pollen Dispensing in Berberis thunbergii. American Midland Naturalist 131(2): 257-265.
Summary: A scientific study that contains extensive reproduction information on species.
Nature Conservancy. 1996. Invasive Plant Fact Sheet/B. thunbergii. The Nature Conservancy Connecticut Chapter in cooperation with The Natural Diversity Data Base of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/connecticut/science/art317.html [Accessed 4 June 2004]
Ness, C. 1996. B. thunbergii (Berberis thunbergii `Crimson Pygmy ). Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/envirohort/factsheets/shrubs/japbarbr.html [Accessed 4 June 2004]
Orto Botanico dell Universita di Camerino, (Undated) Dipartimento di Botanica ed Ecologia. Data base delle collezioni viventi dell Orto Botanico.
Summary: Available from: http://web.unicam.it/botanica/OrtoBotanico/esotiche%20per%20sito.htm [Accessed October 14 2004]
Snowarski, M. 2004. Berberidaceae (berberysowate):
Summary: Available from: http://www.atlas-roslin.pl/gatunki/Berberidaceae.htm [Accessed October 14 2004]
Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker. 2002. B. thunbergii (Berberis thunbergii). Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/midatlantic/beth.html [Accessed 4 June 2004]
Tsuji, Y., and S. Takatsuki. 2004. Food habits and home range use of Japanese macaques on an island inhabited by deer. Ecological Research 19: 281-388. [Accessed 29 June 2004]
Summary: Information on distribution and species notes.
USDA-GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network). 2004. Berberis thunbergii. National Genetic Resources Program [Online Database] National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
Summary: Information on common names, synonyms, and the distributional range of species.
Available from: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?6974 [Accessed 4 June 2004]
USDA-NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service). 2004. Berberis thunbergii. The PLANTS Database Version 3.5 [Online Database] National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA.
Summary: Available from: http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?mode=Scientific+Name&keywordquery=Berberis+thunbergii [Accessed 4 March 2006]
WDNR (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources). 2004. B. thunbergii (Berberis thunbergii). Non-Native Invasive Species: Plants.
Summary: Information on description, economic importance, distribution, habitat, history, growth, and impacts and management of species.
Available from: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/invasive/factsheets/barberry.htm [Accessed 4 June 2004]
Wittman H, Pilsl P, 1997. Reports on the flora of the Province Salzburg. Linzer Biologische Beitrage 29(1):385-506.
Contact
The following 2 contacts offer information an advice on Berberis thunbergii
Ehrenfeld,
Dr. Joan G.
Organization:
Professor Dept. Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
Address:
14 College Farm Road Cook College, Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone:
(732) 932-1081
Fax:
(732) 932-8746
Harrington,
Dr. Robin
Forest ecology and conservation
Organization:
Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources Conservation. University of Massachusetts
Address:

Phone:
Fax: