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BERBERIS thunbergii

Image of Berberis thunbergii

Felder Rushing

Family

Berberidaceae

Botanical Name

BERBERIS thunbergii

Plant Common Name

Japanese Barberry

General Description

Japanese barberry is a dense, upright multi-stemmed shrub that is native to eastern Asia and Japan. Its glossy bright green leaves turn orange, scarlet and/or red-purple in the fall. Bright red berries, which are attractive to birds, appear in late summer to fall and persist into winter. There are many cultivars of Japanese barberry such as the golden-leaved 'Aurea' and dwarf purple-leaved 'Bagatelle'. This shrub has been known to self-sow. Thorny, but still suitable for hedges and barriers, it also makes a nice accent plant. This is a tough, sun-loving plant that is tolerant of many soil types and sites.

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

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Width

    4'-7' / 1.2m - 2.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Eastern Asia, Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought, 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

    Red, Crimson, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Orange, Burgundy, Crimson

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Edging, Foundation, Hedges, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes