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BERBERIS thunbergii 'Red Chief'

Image of Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Red Chief'

James H. Schutte

Family

Berberidaceae

Botanical Name

BERBERIS thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Red Chief'

Plant Common Name

Purpleleaf Japanese Barberry, Red Chief Barberry

General Description

Purpleleaf Japanese barberry ‘Red Chief’ is a rounded to vase-shaped, multi-stemmed shrub with shiny deep leaves turning red to orange in fall. Plum colored fruit persists into winter though this plant does not reliably flower or fruit, it has been known to self-sow.

Japanese barberry is a tough, sun-loving plant that is tolerant of many soil types and sites. It has been known to self-sow and can become somewhat invasive. Thorny, but still suitable for low hedges and edgings, ‘Red Chief’ can also be used in the rock garden. It is striking when combined with lime greens and yellows. Take care not to plant barberry in areas where children play.

Berberis thunbergii is sometimes considered an invasive plant particularly in the northeastern United States. It can form dense thickets in natural areas where it changes soil characteristics and displaces wildlife. For more information about the invasiveness of barberry see the National Park Service’s factsheet at http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/beth1.htm . Also, some species and cultivars of barberry host the plant disease black stem-rust of wheat which causes serious losses in wheat yield. The sale or transport of susceptible or untested species may be prohibited in some parts of the United States and Canada. For more information about the disease see the United States Department of Agriculture factsheet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/barberry/background.shtml

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4'-5' / 1.2m - 1.5m

  • Width

    4'-5' / 1.2m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Central Asia, Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Yellow Green

  • Fruit Color

    Plum

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Crimson, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Red, Orange Red

  • Bark Color

    Burgundy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes