Volunteer barberries are bad for forests

Garden Q&A

May 19, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement | Ellen Nibali and David Clement,Special to The Sun

I have volunteer barberries of different colors coming up in my yard. Are these the same as the nursery ones? Can I use them?

Better not. Their berries are spread by birds, and barberry shrubs are popping up everywhere, including woods and parks, where barberry is becoming the new, very prickly and unpleasant understory. This is especially problematic because deer will not eat it but are eating the natural understory. Either barberry will dominate our forests or it will need to be removed.


Tree fruit drops to the ground due to natural thinning or insect damage. Remove all fallen fruit.

Newspapers make a cheap, impenetrable mulch. Lay 3-4 sheets overlapping. Hold down with thin layer of bark mulch or straw.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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