Weed control teams have been working hard to remove Darwin’s barberry from many areas around Te Anau and Manapouri, as it has jumped the garden fence and become an unwelcome weed.

Date:  05 November 2012

Close up of Darwin's Barberry. Photo: Sue Lake.
Close up of Darwins barberry

Ever since the first settlers arrived in the Te Anau basin people have been nurturing special plants for food or to beautify their surroundings. These early garden plants needed to be tough to handle the harsh conditions, and some of them had all the attributes needed to make successful weeds. They reproduced freely, were not fussy about where they lived and they were survivors! A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place.

'Darwin's barberry, or Berberis darwinii, has the potential to take over large areas of our native bush and park lands if it remains uncontrolled' said Department of Conservation's Biodiversity Ranger, Sue Lake. 'The best way you can help get rid of this plant from our local area is to search and destroy'.

An evergreen shrub, sometimes grown as a hedge, Darwin's barberry can reach up to 4 m tall and has small dark green holly-like leaves and sharp thorns. 'It is a particular problem as it does not mind whether it grows in the sun or in shady areas under the forest, and the seed is spread by birds' Ms Lake said. 'At this time of the year, the spring, it has distinctive bright orange-yellow flowers which make it easy to identify, so keep an eye out for these'.

Under the Regional Pest Management Strategy, land occupiers outside the Barberry Containment Area must destroy all Barberry on land they occupy, as it is a total control plant. The best way to destroy Darwin's barberry is to cut each stem near the base and immediately paint the cut stem with herbicide paste, this will prevent the stem re-sprouting. Ask your local garden or rural suppliers for what herbicide options are available.

Weeds are a major threat to New Zealand's unique native species, ecosystems and conservation lands. The weed issue is one where all New Zealanders can make a real difference.

Check out the Weedbusters website for more information on how to identify and control weeds in your community.

 Darwin's Barberry. Photo: Sue Lake.
Darwin's barberry

Background information

Environment Southland in conjunction with the Southland District Council and Manapouri Community Development Association has started control of Darwin's barberry and cotoneaster on the Manapouri foreshore.


Alistair Hay
Weed Programme Ranger
Phone: +64 3 249 0200

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