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Japanese Barberry

Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii, was added to the Pennsylvania noxious weed list in October 2021.  As a noxious weed, Japanese barberry may no longer be distributed, cultivated, or propagated within the Commonwealth.

Enforcement of the ban on sale and distribution of Japanese barberry will be phased in over two years to allow time for nurseries to eliminate it from their stock, find non-harmful alternatives, and develop seedless, sterile varieties.  A timeline for this compliance and enforcement policy follows:


    • Fall 2021 - Letter of information to plant merchants, to let them know Japanese barberry is on the noxious weed list and to advise that they begin immediately to adjust propagation and ordering of Japanese barberry to decrease their inventory.
    • Fall 2022 - Letter of warning issued to any plant merchant selling Japanese barberry, providing a date in Fall 2023 after which any remaining inventory would be subject to a destruction order.  
    • Fall 2023 - Stop Sale/Destruction orders issued to plant merchants selling or distributing Japanese barberry.


The Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee has recommended that sterile Japanese barberry varieties be granted an exemption to the law, by way of an application process.  The committee would consider seedless varieties of Japanese barberry that have been researched and proven to be sterile. Upon their approval, exempted varieties would be published in a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, as well as appearing on this website.  

Approved Exempted Japanese Barberry Cultivars:

PDA has approved the four sterile cultivars for sale and planting in Pennsylvania as exemptions to the Japanese barberry ban.

The approved infertile, seedless barberry varieties from SynRG, LLC., Raleigh, North Carolina, are listed below:

Parent species: Berberis thunbergii

These are in the WorryFree® Series of barberries from the company SynRG, LLC.

  • Crimson Cutie®(UCONNBTCP4N)
  • Lemon Cutie®(UCONNBTB113)
  • Lemon Glow®(UCONNBTB048)
  • Mr. Green Genes®(UCONNBTB039)

Applications and Forms:

To request the evaluation of cultivars for exemption to the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act (act of Oct. 30, 2017, P.L. 774, No. 46) please fill out the following application completely and accurately. Please attach additional documentation as needed. Once your application is received it will be reviewed by the PA Department of Agriculture. The applicant will be notified by email and postal letter on whether the submitted cultivar was accepted for exemption.  

Please note: An “owner” of the variety name, such as the breeder, patent holder, or brand owner, should apply for this exemption. Individual PA plant merchants, such as nurseries and greenhouses, should not apply for the cultivar exemption. The Department only needs one complete application for any single cultivar or variety; once the application is approved, that variety will be available Commonwealth-wide.
FAQs on Japanese Barberry, Berberis thunbergii


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When will guidance be issued to the industry on the meaning of the two-year enforcement moratorium called for by the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee?

Will shipments of barberry from out-of-state nurseries be permitted during the two-year enforcement moratorium?

Who will be eligible to apply to the Department for a Japanese barberry sterile cultivar exemption?

What information is the Department requiring from petitioners for an exemption for a sterile cultivar?

If an exemption is issued, how long will it be good for?

How will the Department verify that a barberry cultivar that has been issued an exemption and is in the trade is, in fact, a true genetic clone of that cultivar?

What should a plant merchant do if the cultivar they wish to distribute is not listed as a PDA sterile cultivar?

What will PDA do to alert and educate the public that barberry is now a class B noxious weed? Will PDA be providing any educational literature/brochures to garden centers, wholesale yards, and landscape contractors that they can distribute to customers about barberry’s status as a noxious weed?

PDA has the authority under the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to compel property owners to remove noxious weeds from their properties. Will PDA require homeowners, commercial property owners, non-profit property owners or government property owners to remove existing barberry from their properties? If so, how long do they have to accomplish such removal?

​What is the best resource for property owners and landscapers who need to find alternatives to Japanese barberry?

Who should I contact for more information on the listing of Japanese barberry as a noxious weed?