Pennsylvania is considering adding a popular landscaping shrub to its list of noxious weeds. According to a report on the website Public Opinion, the state’s Controlled Plant and Noxious Weeds Committee plans to discuss adding the Japanese barberry under Act 46 of 2017.
Many other states already have the Japanese barberry on their lists of noxious weeds. The plant is described in the article as a prickly, hardy and cheap bush with small oval leaves ranging in color from green to purple. Not many animals feed on the shrub, making them incidental to the ecosystem. What makes the shrub particularly dangerous as a tick breeding ground is that deer mice, the primary host of deer ticks, use the plant as shelter in the winter. The ticks also thrive due to the plant’s dense, humidity-trapping foliage.
Act 46 of 2017 established a committee to control noxious weeds and has so far placed 20 weeds on its list. The committee can ban the distribution, cultivation and propagation of a plant that's been listed as a noxious weed without a permit. The committee could also require the owner of a property to eliminate any noxious weed found on it.
The state has two classifications of noxious weeds. Class A weeds are not widespread and are targeted for eradication; Class B weeds are widespread and, though they cannot feasibly be eradicated, they can be controlled, and the committee can offer help with that effort.