Sale of Japanese Barberry Outlawed July 1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The sale or distribution of Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii DC, will be illegal in West Virginia starting July 1, 2020. During the 2018 regular legislative session, Japanese barberry was added to the West Virginia “noxious weeds” list as part of an effort to control the invasive plant. An amendment allowed a phase-in period for existing stock to be depleted.

“Although a popular landscaping option, Japanese barberry is an invasive plant that destroys farm and forested areas. It was added to the noxious weeds list so we could better control the entry of the plant into our borders,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

Sale or distribution of Japanese barberry will be prohibited effective July 1, 2020. Once the ban goes into effect, nursery inspection personnel will quarantine, and issue stop sale orders for Japanese barberry when encountered. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has received $100,000 in federal grant dollars to fight the invasive plant in Cacapon State Park.

The barberry plant prefers forest floors, pastures and other open spaces. In these areas, the plant rapidly takes over the surface and crowds out desirable species much like other invasive plants.

“When the Legislature added the plant to the list, a compromise was struck with plant nurseries to phase in the ban and allow for the sale of any plant in stock,” Leonhardt said. “The WVDA is working with the Division of Natural Resources to control these plants in various areas. The infestation is already bad, but we are doing everything possible to negate the negative impacts on our land.”

For more information, contact the WVDA Plant Industries Division at (304) 558-2212.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.