Berberis thunbergii - DC.
Japanese Barberry
Other Common Names: Japanese barberry
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Berberis thunbergii DC. (TSN 18835)
French Common Names: Úpine-vinette du Japon
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.134460
Element Code: PDBER02040
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Barberry Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Ranunculales Berberidaceae Berberis
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Berberis thunbergii
Taxonomic Comments: A horticultural form with purple foliage is sometimes recognized as Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea, but is more appropriately treated at the form level if recognized taxonomically. Kartesz (Jan. 1998 review draft of new dataset) synonymizes var. atropurpurea under the species entry for Berberis thunbergii.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (25Oct2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Missouri (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, GA, IAexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada BCexotic, NBexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Medium
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: A serious problem in New England where it can form thick stands that eliminate all native understory plants. Although it was initially thought to invade mostly disturbed sites (old fields, roadsides, etc.), it is now known to invade high-quality habitats as well, including closed-canopy forests. Recent studies have documented serious ecosystem impacts as well, including changes in soil nitrate concentrations which may permit the invasion of other weedy or exotic species or hinder the restoration of the native flora even if Berberis thunbergii were successfully eradicated. Also a problem weed in the upper Midwest, and some areas of the southeastern U.S.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 05Dec2003
Evaluator: Maybury, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Asia (Japan, China)

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High/Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:High/Low significance
Comments: Kourtev et al. (1998) found that deciduous hardwood forests invaded by both Berberis thunbergii and Microstegium vimineum had higher soil pH than non-invaded areas. The authors postulate a feedback loop involving the exotic plants and the presence of earthworms. A subsequent study (Kourtev et al. 1999) found significantly higher densities of non-native earthworms in the soil under the exotic species and found that available nitrate and net potential nitrification were also significantly higher there (total soil C and N and net ammonification were significantly higher under native vegetation). The authors suspect that these changes, especially the change in nitrogen cycling, may permit the invasion of other weedy or exotic species and they note that their results suggest that even if the two exotic species were removed, the restoration of the native flora might be inhibited by the high nitrate concentrations in the soil. However, both changes in soil pH and in soil nitrogen dynamics in general may be more pronounced under M. vimineum than under B. thunbergii. Kourtev et al. (2003) conducted greenhouse studies where B. thunbergii and M. vimineum, as well as a native species, were grown separately in the same mineral soil from a non-invaded forest stand. This study indicates that B. thunbergii, specifically, may cause higher nitrate concentrations, as well as changes in the soil microbial community and other factors, but not necessarily changes in soil pH or nitrification.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: Often replaces native understory layers, such as Vaccinium spp., but may not change the number of layers or overall vegetation structure that much.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Established plants are well known to form thick stands that eliminate all native understory plants in New England (e.g., Mehrhoff et al. 2003).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Forms thick, monospecific stands in New England, so presumably strongly outcompetes Vaccinium spp. and others. Birds may be disproportionately impacted by the indirect effects as the Berberis outcompetes more bird-friendly communities (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: Although it was initially thought to invade mostly disturbed habitats (old fields, roadsides, fence rows) it is now known to invade high quality habitats as well, including closed canopy forests (Mehrhoff et al. 2003).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Based on Kartesz (1999)

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Moderate significance
Comments: Serious, well documented impacts in New England and the upper Midwest (e.g., Merhoff et al. 2003, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources 2003) and potentially in some areas of the Southeast (Remalay, no date). Listed as a "significant" (but not "severe") threat by the Tennessee and Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Councils, and as an "Other Important" non-native plant by Georgia but most southeastern states do not seem to list this species as a serious concern as of December 2003.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Moderate significance
Comments: About 23-25 TNC ecoregions out of 63.

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Upland New England deciduous forest and woodland, upland Midwest Deciduous forest/woodland, wetland/floodplain deciduous forest, shrub/meadow wetlands, disturbed habitats (roadsides, wastelands). Wide tolerance of sun/shade and soil conditions.

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Unknown, but assumed not decreasing and not greatly expanding in all areas.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Introduced in the 1800s and very widely used as a landscaping plant ever since so it is possible it has already invaded most suitable habitats. However, much potentially suitable habitat seems to still be uninvaded so far, so minor changes in climate or management activities could produce range expansions. Not in the Adirondaks or northern Vermont yet per Merhaoff et al. (2003). Much habitat potentially available in the Southeast but the species seems to have a harder time invading native habitats there, especially undisturbed forests. Apparently not escaping at all (yet) in the temperate Pacific Northwest, where it is also widely used in landscaping.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Very popular, commonly used landscaping plant. Sold everywhere. Berries are dispersed by large birds and small mammals.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Ehrenfeld (1997) reports that the local invasion (NY, NJ, PA) is expanding into more protected habitats no mention of rate, but greater than stable.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Although it was initially thought to invade mostly disturbed habitats (old fields, roadsides, fence rows) it is now known to invade high quality habitats as well, including closed canopy forests at least in New England, the Midwest, and Pennsylvania (Mehrhoff et al. 2003, Pennsylvania Flora Project 2003).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Insignificant

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Low significance
Comments: Handpulling and digging up all roots (TNC Wildland Invasive Species Team 2003, Wisconsin DNR 2003) or Glyphosate (Roundup) provide effective means of eradicating Japanese barberry populations (Silander and Klepeis 1999). Early spring is best as most other plants will not have leafed-out, making identification easy. Plants may be supressed in fire-maintained landscapes.

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Some resprouting but not too agressive.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Insignificant
Comments: Relatively low impact assuming any Roundup application is targeted.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Moderate significance
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Brunelle, H. and B. Lapin. 1996. Invasive plant fact sheet for Berberis thunbergii. TNC (The Nature Conservancy) Wildland Invasive Species Team. Available: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/moredocs/berthu01.pdf. (Accessed 2003).

  • Deam, C. C. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.

  • Ehrenfeld, J. G. 1997. Invasion of deciduous forest preserves in the New York metropolitan region by Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). Journal of the Torrey Botanical-Society 124 (2). pp. 210-215. Abstract available online: http://sain.nbii.gov/invasives/common36.shtml.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1997. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 3. Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiii + 590 pp.

  • Hoffman, R. and K. Kearns (eds). 1997. Manual of Control Recomendations. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Available: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/invasive/manual_toc.htm. (Accessed 2003).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • 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 (1-2) 493-501. As abstracted at the NBII, Southern Appalachian Information Node: http://sain.nbii.gov/invasives/species7.shtml

  • Kourtev. P. S., W. Z. Huang, and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 1999. Differences in earthworm densities and nitrogen dynamics in soils under exotic and native plant species. Biological Invasions 1:237-245. Available at NII-REO: http://reo.nii.ac.jp/journal/HtmlIndicate/html/vol_issues/SUP0000001000/JOU0001000060/ISS0000003862/article_list.html.

  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander, Jr., S.A. Leicht and E. Mosher. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Online. Available: http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane/.

  • Randall, J.M. and J. Marinelli (eds.) 1996. Invasive plants: weeds of the global garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York.

  • Remaley, T. No Date. Southeast exotic pest plant council invasive plant manual. Available: http://www.se-eppc.org/manual/. (Accessed 2004).

  • Silander, J. A. and D. M. Klepeis. 1999. The invasion ecology of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in the New England landscape. Biological Invasions 1: 189-201. Available at NII-REO: http://reo.nii.ac.jp/journal/HtmlIndicate/html/vol_issues/SUP0000001000/JOU0001000060/ISS0000003862/article_list.html

  • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

  • The Pennsylvania Flora Project. Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Available: http://www.paflora.org/ (Accessed 2003).

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