As if we don’t already have enough to do eradicating invasive species, now there is a new barberry plant on the horizon. Heavenly Bambo (Nandinia domestica) is an Asian import. It is semi-evergreen here in Wisconsin, can handle full sun to part shade and has a spectacular fruit display. Therein lies the problem. It is killing songbirds that are mistaking it for a good food source this time of year. But research has shown the seeds contain a cyanide, which causes a swift, but painful death.
Although it’s been found primarily in the Southern states, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter member Loris Damerow tells me certain cultivars of this plant can be hardy into Zone 5 of the Hardiness Zone map.
Making an on-line search for retail sources for this plant, I found it available at Walmart and several other on-line nurseries. If you run across this plant at a nursery, no matter how beautiful it appears, please don’t purchase it. In fact, make the nursery aware of it’s deadly effect on birds and potentially other wildlife, and ask them either to remove the plants or include a warning for the purchaser.
If you should come across this plant in a neighbor’s yard or a municipal park or another area, with permission, please make every attempt to get the fruits removed before it is too late for the returning migrating birds. This time of the year, and especially because of our late spring, the Heavenly Bamboo fruits are appealing to wildlife since there is so little native plant nourishment available. Cut the berries from the plant and deposit them in the garbage; do not compost them.
CONTACT YOUR DNR
Here in Wisconsin, if you find a plant for sale which is on the invasive species list (NR40), you are encouraged to contact:
Invasive Species Team Leader/Conservation Biologist
Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation
Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Business Phone: 608-264-6043
Likely other states have similar contacts available for you to notify their DNR about the sale of invasive species. Don’t hesitate to check for this information and let them know if you find invasive species available for sale.
Thank you Kimberly Bruce for making me aware of this article: Feeding Behavior-Related Toxicity due to Nandina domestica in Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum).