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Written By Tyler Van Fleet.

Posted on April 1st, 2021.

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Now is a great time to identify and remove some common non-native invasive plant species from your woodlot. 

Our little 2.5 acre woodlot needs A LOT of work – from removing the old junk pile we inherited to pruning hazard trees and controlling invasive species.  It’s hard to know where to begin, so I fall back on some great advice I got at the Women and Their Woods retreat a couple of years ago: Do the projects that you enjoy – let your passions guide you. 

In that case, I know just what to do – get that thrill of yanking out some of my least favorite non-native invasive plants! And early spring is a great time of year to locate invasive plants because many species like Japanese barberry and multiflora rose begin to leaf out before the native plants, making their green leaves easy to spot in an otherwise brown woodlot.  


Many invasive plants, like the Japanese barberry shrub seen here, are easy to see in early spring because they leaf out earlier than many native plants. 

My strategy to control these invasive plants is to start at the edge of my lawn and work deeper into the woods from there.  I walk back and forth, sweeping the area looking for small plants that I can easily pull by hand.  To keep the plants from re-rooting, I hang them upside down on low branches to dry out and die.


I hang a hand-pulled Japanese barberry plant roots-up on a low tree branch so it can’t re-root in my woods.

I spot the green and purple compound leaves of tiny multiflora rose plants sprouting in my blackberry patch. I hand pull these, too, but their root systems are more delicate than barberry’s and when I pull the stem tends to break off from the roots. Fortunately, it rained for the past two days so the ground is soft and damp – ideal conditions for pulling out roots and digging around for any pieces I may have left behind. 


The green and purple compound leaves of multiflora rose are easy to spot among the dead leaves and red-brown canes of my blackberry patch. 

I use loppers to cut away the stems of larger plants.  Once these are removed, I apply an herbicide to the cut ends of the “stump” (which are a brilliant yellow in the case of the Japanese barberry). The active ingredient Triclopyr migrates into the root system and kills the plant. A few new stalks may shoot up next year but I’ve found this spot treatment of herbicide to be highly effective at killing large Japanese barberry shrubs with just one application. 



The cut stems of a large Japanese barberry shrub are bright yellow, to which I apply an herbicide with the active ingredient Triclopyr to kill the plant. 

It feels great to remove some of these problematic shrubs and make space in my woodlot to replant with native plants. Check out more strategies for dealing with a variety of pests in your woodlot and let us know what projects you are doing (and enjoying!) on our landowner forum


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