by Barbara Walvoord
Barberry is a dangerous invasive. It can take over a woods, as this web photo shows, forming an impenetrable barrier that fails to support wildlife, but does increase the tick population.
Lathrop’s north campus have a lovely forest full of native plants, but in spring 2014, we noticed barberry coming in, because it greens up before most native plants do. Virtually all the light green in this photo is barberry:
So we got to work, with resident volunteers and funding from the Kendal Charitable Fund, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and the Northampton Community Preservation Act. Our wonderful contractor, Polatin Ecological Services, used the most environmentally friendly methods to remove the invasives. Below is what the same spot looked like in 2016, but a bit later in the spring, so you can see that the barberry has not leafed out, and native ferns and other plants are now taking its place. Scientific studies suggest that our forest now supports more native wildlife. Hooray!
See for yourself–on the north campus, take the right-hand path, cross the bridge, and then turn right along the brook about twenty yards until you see this bent tree. Both campuses–look for dead bushes throughout our forests.
We now have about 50 acres of forest on both campuses that are free of invasives or in process of being treated.