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Japanese barberry Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea

Other plants called Japanese barberry:

Phonetic Spelling
ber-BER-is thun-BER-jee-eye at-ro-pur-PUR-ee-ah
Description

Purple leaf barberry is a deciduous shrub variety in the Berberidaceae (barberry) family with striking purple burgundy foliage and red stems.  This dependable accent  plant is a rounded, dense shrub with numerous spiny branches and is easy to transplant.  It grows 3 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 7 feet wide.

Plant in the full sun to light shade, in average to dry well drained soils.  It is tolearnt to a wide range of soil types including clay as long as the soils are not too wet.  This shrub is hardy down to zone 4 and is resistant to browsing by deer, and is drought and air pollution tolerant.  Propagate through stem cuttings.

The yellow fragrant flowers are showy and delicate hanging down from the branches.  Stand out red orange leaves appear in the fall and showy red fruits last through the fall and winter months.  The fruits are enjoyed by birds.

It can be used for a specimen, hedge, or as barrier planting. Its texture is medium to fine. This plant dislikes wet feet and it can be quite aggressive and weedy in eastern North America.  There are some dwarf cultivars of this plant that might be more appropriate for the landscape.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:   The spiny branches make it very difficult to prune.  Anthracnose, root rot, bacterial leaf spot, wilt, scale, barberry webworm, and aphids are some problems that this plant may struggle with.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

More information on Berberis thunbergii.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Children's Secret Garden- Wilson Botanical Gardens Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Admiration'
  • 'Bagatelle'
  • 'Bailtwo'
  • 'Rose Glow'
    Mottled leaves, purple pink, fall color red to purple
'Admiration', 'Bagatelle', 'Bailtwo', 'Rose Glow'
Tags:
#thorns#deciduous#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennials#specimen#shrub#purple leaves#yellow flowers#weedy#red leaves#winter interest#accent plant#security plant#high maintenance#air pollution tolerant#hedges#cpp#aggressive#deer browsing plant#spines#red fruits#flowers late spring#urban conditions tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#fall color red#fall color orange#partial shade tolerant#winter fruits#flowers mid-spring#barrier#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Admiration'
  • 'Bagatelle'
  • 'Bailtwo'
  • 'Rose Glow'
    Mottled leaves, purple pink, fall color red to purple
'Admiration', 'Bagatelle', 'Bailtwo', 'Rose Glow'
Tags:
#thorns#deciduous#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#perennials#specimen#shrub#purple leaves#yellow flowers#weedy#red leaves#winter interest#accent plant#security plant#high maintenance#air pollution tolerant#hedges#cpp#aggressive#deer browsing plant#spines#red fruits#flowers late spring#urban conditions tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#fall color red#fall color orange#partial shade tolerant#winter fruits#flowers mid-spring#barrier#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Berberis
    Species:
    thunbergii
    Family:
    Berberidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds are attracted to the fruits.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Drought tolerant; tolerates range of soil types; tolerates urban conditions; seldom damaged by deer
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Dense
    Rounded
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Fine
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    This plant has .3-in., bright red fruit in fall and winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    This plant has small, yellow fragrant flowers tinged with purple in mid to late spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has alternate, simple, reddish to purplish leaves (best color in full sun). They are .5 to 1.3 in.-long and narrow at the base. Leaves are borne in clusters.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Hedge
    Security
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Pollution
    Urban Conditions
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy