two pictures of different types of flowers

Invasive Plant to Avoid: Barberry

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Herring Run Nursery will be focusing each day on one invasive plant and a native alternative.

Don’t Plant: Barberry


Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is a deciduous shrub. Homeowners often plant it because of its dense form and, often, reddish purple foliage. Because it tolerates shade, this plant often invades native woodlands where it displaces native shrubs and trees.

Barberry has been implicated in spreading Lyme disease.

The ability of this plant to spread quickly and widely means that the risk to native habitats is severe.

Native Alternative: Ninebark


A great alternative to barberry is ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius). This shrub is highly adaptable and very durable in urban and suburban landscapes.

Particularly well suited as a replacement for barberry is the Tiny Wine™ Ninebark, a dwarf cultivar with bronze-maroon foliage. It grows well in full sun and rarely grows above four feet in height. The blooms are small clusters of pink flowers in spring. This plant should be available at Herring Run Nursery when we re-open for Spring in April of 2016.


We are also excited to be growing a new variety called Tiny Wine Gold™ Ninebark, which offers the same tidy habit but with gold foliage. Because of lower levels of anthocyanins in this variety, as compared to Tiny Wine, we expect this cultivar to be more attractive to herbivores like beetles and lepidoptera. This is a new introduction and should be available by Fall of 2016.

For sites where a full-size ninebark is appropriate, Herring Run Nursery also offers seed-grown straight species plants.

Herring Run Nursery will open its Spring season on April 9th.

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