Berberis thunbergii D C.

Japanese Barberry

Densely branched shrub to 2 m tall. Young shoots hairless, dark red. Spines 0.5-1 cm long. Leaves deciduous, more or less ovate, 1-2 cm long, upper surface dull, margin without teeth. Leaf stalk winged, 5-7 mm long. Flowers borne in clusters of 2-5(-12) occasionally solitary, yellow, spring to summer. Fruit elliptic berries about 7-8 mm long, 4 mm wide, red and shiny.


B. chitria Ker Gawl. also has deciduous leaves, toothless or toothed but 2-5 cm long and the spines 1-2 cm long and berries 1-1.5 cm long.

B. vulgaris L. also has leaves 2-5 cm long but finely toothed, spines to 2.5 cm long and ellipsoid red berries mostly 1-1.5 cm long.

B. wilsoniae Hemsl. has characteristic spherical salmon pink berries; it is the source of various hybrids and cultivars, some of which may be available in Australia. Grown mainly in New South Wales.

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Berberidaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea Nana'

Dwarf 40-60 cm tall with small spines. Raised Van Eck, Boskoop, Holland in 1942. Known in Europe as 'Little Favourite', a name also sometimes used in Australia.

Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea Superba'

Appears like a large growing variant of 'Atropurpurea' with good form and larger bronze-red leaves. This is probably b. הottawensis Schneid. 'Superba' ( b. thunbergii × b. vulgaris); it grows to 2.5 m tall, has leaves 1.5-3.5 cm long and berries about 9 mm long and 5 mm wide.

Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea'

Leaves purplish becoming carmine in autumn. Grows true from seed. Raised by Lean Renault in 1913.

Berberis thunbergii 'Golden Ring'

Leaves with yellow margins; probably also belongs in b. הottawensis.

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

Leaves variegated white and pink.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Ranunculanae
order      Ranunculales
family       Berberidaceae
genus        Berberis L.