Tag Archives: heath

HEATHERS & BARBERRIES & TICKS, OH NO!

An Evil Beauty

   Uh oh! I was pulling an odd weed here and there in my heath bed and came upon a seedling of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunburgii). Should I start checking myself for deer ticks? Are all the plants in the bed soon to expire?    Japanese barberry is a commonly planted ornamental that was introduced into this country almost 150 years ago. For decades upon decades, it sedately graced landscapes with its boxwood-like leaves (but not evergreen), yellow flowers, and bright red berries, all set off against a backdrop of dark brown, thorny stems.

Barberry in woods

    For some reason, the plant began to spread about 35 years ago. Perhaps it was the increased planting of barberries around homes, along highways, and outside shopping malls. Those plants spawned yet more plants as birds ate the berries and spread the seeds. Perhaps it was the surge in deer …

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