Assessment of the status of Berberis aristata and Berberis julianae

Jan Hendrick (Invasive Species Programme, SANBI), Dan’sile Cindi (SANBI) and Johann du Preez (University of Free State)

The genus Berberis (Berberidaceae), commonly called Barberry, contains approximately 500 species. Berberis species have been distributed all over the world for their horticultural uses, the most popular of which is in the landscaping industry.

This has resulted in several species escaping from cultivation and becoming the invasive in some parts of the world, including South Africa.

Invasive Berberis can have considerable negative environmental and economic impacts, such as altering soil chemistry, lowering veld carrying capacity, preventing access to watercourses when occurring in dense stands, and replacing indigenous vegetation.

Several species also serve as alternative hosts for the destructive black stem rust disease of wheat. No formal study has been conducted regarding the history, invasive status or impact of Berberis in South Africa and the aim of this study is to assess the invasion potential of the species that have started to naturalise.

This study so far has led to the detection of naturalised populations of B julianae in Golden Gate Highlands National Park (Free State) and B. aristata in the Woodbush State Forest (Limpopo province)

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