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Japanese Barberry

Scientific Name

Berberis thunbergii DC. (ITIS)

Common Name

Japanese barberry

Native To

Japan (Zouhar 2008)

Date of U.S. Introduction
Means of Introduction

Introduced as an ornamental and promoted as a replacement for common barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which is a host for black stem rust (Zouhar 2008)


Forms dense stands that compete with native trees and herbaceous plants (Ward et al. 2009)

Current U.S. Distribution

Eastern and Midwestern U.S.

Japanese barberry -
Image use policy

Japanese barberry, foliage in April


Photo by James H. Miller; USDA, Forest Service

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  • Pennsylvania Phasing in Ban of Invasive Japanese Barberry

    • Nov 12, 2021
    • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

    • The PA Department of Agriculture added Japanese Barberry, or Berberis thunbergii, to a list of noxious weeds — plants that cannot be legally sold or cultivated in the state. The popular, non-native, ornamental shrub forms dense, prickly thickets that crowd out plants and disrupt native ecosystems. It is also thought to harbor black-legged ticks that spread lyme disease. The ban on sale and cultivation took effect October 8, 2021. Enforcement of the ban will be phased in over two years to allow time for nurseries to eliminate it from their stock, find non-harmful alternatives, and develop seedless, sterile varieties that pose less threat to the environment and agriculture. Landscape and nursery businesses will receive notices of the timeline, procedures and exemption process for sterile varieties. Property owners should consider eliminating the shrubs on their land.

      Effective October 8, 2021, 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.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
State and Local Government