Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry is commonly planted as an ornamental in commercial and residential landscaping. That’s unfortunate:  Japanese Barberry is an invasive plant that our partner APIPP gives a threat ranking of “very high.” 

Adirondack herbivorous wildlife (such as deer) won’t browse on this nasty, so it quickly squeezes out native plants and dominates the landscape. 

Worse, Japanese Barberry creates an environment loved by field mice and ticks. APIPP reports that forests invaded with Japanese Barberry have been documented to contain up to 10 times the quantity of Lyme-infested ticks as a similar uninvaded forest. 

So you don’t want this nasty around.  


Japanese Barberry is a dense spiny shrub that grows 2-8 feet in height with grey bark and sharp thorns.  Oval leaves are small, may be purple or green, and turn red in fall. The inner wood is bright yellow. In the fall, barberry produces small red berries. 

This invasive grows in all conditions:  full sun, full shade, and in between. You will find large thickets around our lake and streams and in our woodlands. It spreads by seed, clonal shoots below ground and by the tips of its branches where they touch the ground.  Its fruits are eaten by birds and small mammals and its seeds (up to 2000 per plant) are spread long distances. 


Plants can be pulled before they fruit and left to dry in the sun. 
Entire root system must be removed or plants will re-sprout. 

Foliar herbicide treatments are effective when applied evenly on plant leaves. Apply when there is no wind to avoid spray drifts.

Safety first whenever using herbicides! Wear protective equipment. Do not use near water or wetlands or within 30 minutes of rainfall. Special permits and applicator certifications are needed for wetlands; better to contact APIPP (518-576-2082) for help.   READ labels and use only on your own property.

A bio-degradable alternative is to spray with a one gallon spray pump a mix of 70% vinegar concentration 20-30% (found in garden stores and on-line) and 30% water.  For each gallon, add a cup of salt and 2-3 oz. of dish detergent. Spray when rain is not forecast and temperature is above 60 degrees. Pre-mixes are also available on-line. Fully cover all leaves. Use proper protective eye and skin gear as this vinegar concentration is a strong
acid.  Avoid overspray.

Wild Parsnips

Don’t Touch This Plant!

A nasty invasive species with an innocent look and name has taken hold in the Schroon Lake area. 

Wild parsnip can cause painful, localized burning and blistering of the skin with just minimal contact–guaranteeing a visit to urgent care or worse!

Wild parsnip originated in Europe and Asia and is not to be confused with the root vegetable that also grows in this region. 

Infestations have been reported in two locations along Route 9 just south of Route 74 at the north end of Schroon Lake.


Wild parsnip is a biennial herb that grows to 2-5 feet. Alternate, compound, branched leaves have serrated edges. First year rosettes have pinnately compound leaves. Adult plants bloom June through August with small, five-petaled, yellow flowers arranged in a flat-topped, broad umbel 2-6″.

Wild parsnip thrives in full sun and grows along roadsides, fields, fence rows, and waste areas.


Don’t touch this plant!  Wild Parsnip has sap that can cause severe skin irritation, blistering, and scarring. Be sure to wear proper personal protective equipment when managing this plant. 

For individual plants, digging or root cutting can be effective. For larger infestations, mowing while in flower and before seed set can be effective as well as selective herbicide treatments.

Learn how to identify wild parsnip and more about the plant from DEC here.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Winter is the best time to scout for the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect species.

Check Hemlock trees everywhere you go this winter–on your property, and elsewhere when you are in the forests snowmobiling, hiking or snowshoeing. Look for small, white, “woolly” masses clumped on the base of the needles (see picture), often on the underside of the twig. Here is more information from DEC on identifying HWA.

If you see something suspicious, report it right away! You can:

HWA is already close by (see map),and was confirmed on Prospect Mountain near Lake George in 2017. There the State, the New York State Hemlock Initiative and the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program took immediate action to kill the bug on infested trees, protect uninfected trees, and halt the spread to new locations. There have been no confirmed sightings in the Adirondack Park since.

HWA has the potential to decimate Adirondack Hemlocks, which make up a significant percentage of our tree cover, as this nasty has already done to the Hemlocks of the Great Smoky Mountains (see image below). Hemlocks like to grow near streams, where they inhibit erosion and create shade that moderates water temperatures, which protects native trout. Losing our Hemlocks would have significant additional negative consequences.

Adirondack Hemlocks have no natural resistance to HWA, and the insect does not have any natural predators in our area, so early detection is the only prevention.

For more information about HWA, visit the websites of the New York State Hemlock Initiative, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, and the Lake George Land Conservancy.

Japanese Knotweed

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) gives Japanese Knotweed a threat ranking of “very high.”  This nasty’s early spring emergence, dense growth, and thick shoots that travel laterally underground up to 60’ allow Knotweed to quickly take over large areas by squeezing out native plants.


Japanese Knotweed thrives in all conditions—full sun, full shade, wet and dry soils. It is often found along stream banks, where it promotes erosion, and along roads.

Knotweed is an herbaceous perennial shrub with jointed, hollow stems. The leaves
are leathery and oval. A cascade of white flowers bloom in August, and dormant
reddish-brown stems are visible in winter.


Knotweed is sometimes described as “a visiting in-law in plant form” because it is so
difficult to control or get rid of. In fact, this nasty is resistant even to glyphosate
(Roundup) unless properly injected.

Eradicating Japanese Knotweed is not a DIY job, so if you find it, we recommend you contact APIPP (518-576-2082) or ESSLA.