The Main Plant entry for Barberries (Berberis)

This database entry exists to show plant data and photos that apply generically to all Barberries.

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Leaves: Unusual foliage color
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Flowers: Showy
Uses: Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds: seeds require a cooling period prior to germination and are best planted in the Fall
Sow in situ
Can handle transplanting
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem

Common names
  • Barberry

Photo Gallery
  • Posted by Marilyn (Kentucky - Zone 6a) on May 22, 2013 8:07 PM concerning plant:
    "The genus Berberis is characterised by dimorphic shoots, with long shoots which form the structure of the plant, and short shoots only 1-2 mm long. The leaves on long shoots are non-photosynthetic, developed into three-spined thorns 3-30 mm long; the bud in the axil of each thorn-leaf then develops a short shoot with several normal, photosynthetic leaves. These leaves are 1-10 cm long, simple, and either entire, or with spiny margins. Only on young seedlings do leaves develop on the long shoots, with the adult foliage style developing after the young plant is 1-2 years old.

    Berberis species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including a moth, the Mottled Pug.

    Several species of Berberis are popular garden shrubs, grown for such features as ornamental leaves, yellow flowers, or red or blue-black berries. Numerous cultivars and hybrids have been selected for garden use. Low-growing Berberis plants are also commonly planted as pedestrian barriers. Taller-growing species are valued for crime prevention; being very dense, viciously spiny shrubs, they make very effective barriers impenetrable to burglars. For this reason they are often planted below potentially vulnerable windows, and used as hedges."

    Taken from wikipedia's page at:

  • Posted by Lioba (West Fulton, NY - Zone 5a) on Jun 18, 2017 8:51 AM concerning plant:
    Barberry has been banned for sale in New York State. It is considered invasive. In my opinion, since I am writing among friends, that is bulldinky! Yes, when the plant is stressed it will send out seeds by the multitudes. What plant wouldn't? But under healthy conditions, it doesn't, as has been my experience. I think someone didn't like this plant.

    Honestly, when I moved into my home and inherited a hedge of them, I wasn't sure what to think. I don't like the thorns, but I do love that they provide food for wildlife when none is to be had because the berries hang on. They give protection to animals. I respect the barberry bushes. I love the color variations.

    Mine get abused because they are so close to the road. I do trim them back and clear underneath occasionally, getting the dead wood out. They tolerate a lot.

    They surely do give the message KEEP OUT!
  • Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Dec 31, 2011 11:46 AM concerning plant:
    These shrubs are relatively easy to grow from seed, so much so that they often spread rapidly from wildlife carrying the berries and seeds to other locations.

    Sow seeds in autumn. Barberry seeds requires a cooling period prior to germination. Therefore, planting seeds in the fall will ensure that seeds will begin to germinate during the following spring.

    To harvest seeds, gather berries and remove the seed by gently mashing the berries and separating the seeds. Rinse the seeds and dry them on a paper towel or kitchen towel. Refrigerate seeds (whether gathered or store-bought) until ready to sow them.
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 21, 2018 1:15 PM concerning plant:
    According to The Plant Book, An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Flora, there has been about 400 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs where most are native to eastern Asia, a few from Europe, and several from Andean South America. They usually are thickly bushy with weak to fierce woody spines, single to three to five together, where the leaves join the stems. The leaves are generally alternate but can be clustered, and some species have sharp leaf spines besides the stem spines. The inner bark is normally yellow in colour. Clusters of small yellow or cream, or even orange or reddish, flowers are followed by berries, usually egg-shaped. The Plant Book of 2001 mentions that the North American species once placed in Berberis are now referred to as Mahonia.
    I am not a fan of Barberry, I would rather they be absent from North America. They are nasty to touch. A number have a good fine texture and leaf beauty. However, I have seen old plants get unkempt, and have fun pruning them to get them back into shape, as they fight back. The most commonly used species in horticulture is the Japanese Barberry and it has escaped cultivation a lot and is invasive in the east half of the USA. When I go to natural land preserves and remove Eurasian invasive plants, it is one of the targets in or near the woods. The Common or European Barberry of Eurasia is an alternate host of wheat rust disease and any having escaped cultivation in the US or Canada is meant to be eliminated.
Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Not Lycium barbarum by dave Sep 8, 2014 4:58 AM 14
Mahonia by sedumzz Jun 21, 2022 9:22 AM 0

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