Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Japanese Barberry Menace & Lyme Disease

{I'm on my Soap Box today, because I want to rant about something that I think you should be aware of...because gardening isn't just about pretty flowers, it can be about your health, as in this case.}

A few weeks ago, while out looking for mulch and a few geraniums, I was completely shocked when I stumbled upon rows and rows of Japanese Barberry bushes. I was at Home Depot. 
Why was I shocked? After all, Japanese Barberry is a pretty common sight. Just drive down your landscaped city streets in Draper, UT and you'll see them. They're pretty popular in new housing developments, too.  And after a bit of research I found that it is readily available at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart. Chances are you may have one in your own yard.
But most independent, local nurseries don't carry it. And most gardening experts feel that it is not only irresponsible to plant it, but consider it a hazard.
Because Japanese Barberry is a highly invasive, non-native species.
And that's not all...
While parents research poisonous plants and Google whether they should have a Poinsettia in their home at Christmas, very few people are aware of the proven, dangerous link between Japanese Barberry and Lyme Disease. 
Japanese Barberry plants are the perfect haven for ticks.  Ticks which are most likely infested with Lyme Disease, among other diseases. This information has been available for years. And yet major landscaping retailers, and even landscapers themselves continue to sell, promote and plant this threat.

Last fall I read this excellent article, "Stop with the Lyme Tick Nurseries", that explains why Japanese Barberry is creating hazards in our own backyards. After more research, I stumbled upon this informative article by Debbie Roberts, explaining the studies and frankly, the public health risk that is continuing with the planting of Japanese Barberry.

Still not convinced that you should dig up the Japanese Barberry in your yard, call your local town hall and tell them that they should dig up the Japanese Barberry in the town park, or call Home Depot and ask them to take it off their shelves?
Read this article from Scientific American.  I'm not an expert on this subject, but Scott Williams, Research Scientist Department of Forestry and Horticulture at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) is and he says, 
 "But we’ve documented factually that, indirectly, this invasive plant can have a negative effect on human health. When you start telling people that this plant can negatively affect them, their pets, their children, then they start paying attention."

Dig them up and discuss with your local nursery what native alternatives you can plant instead of Japanese Barberry.  
I think there are prettier alternatives, too. Just saying.

1 comment:

  1. Holy cow! I had NO idea!! That is really scary and I'm so glad you shared this. Is this only true of the Japanese Barbary or all Barbary bushes?