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Native alternative(s) for Berberis vulgaris:
Berberis canadensis Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Rubus idaeus Rubus idaeus
Rubus idaeus var. idaeus
Berberis koreana Berberis koreana

European Barberry Berberis vulgaris

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
BUR-bur-is vul-GAIR-iss
Description

This European barberry is a broad deciduous shrub that has become naturalized in the United States, to the extent that it has become quite weedy.  It is in leaf from early spring to late fall and the seeds ripen from in the fall. The tiny yellow flowers appear in late spring to early summer and have an unpleasant odor.  It has three-parted spines at the base of the leaves. European barberry can be grown as a medium-size hedge, but tit does not tolerate extreme maritime exposure.

The plant is often found growing in woodland, as a hedge, or along roadsides. It prefers a sunny position in moist loamy soils, but can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. It also tolerates semi-shade (light woodland) and dry or moist soil, but requires moist soil when grown in shade of trees. European barberry is very tolerant of pruning.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: 

It is listed as an invasive plant in several regions of the United States.  It is a host plant for wheat rust. As the most important alternate host of this fungus, it has been the subject of vigorous eradication programs, and it is now infrequent or absent in many areas where it was once frequent

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.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Plant Walls and Hedges
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#perennials#shrub#weedy#deciduous shrub#dye plant#spines#malodorous#yellow dye plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#perennials#shrub#weedy#deciduous shrub#dye plant#spines#malodorous#yellow dye plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Berberis
    Species:
    vulgaris
    Family:
    Berberaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Flowers are used as a dye.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Centrall and Southern Europe to Iran
    Distribution:
    Naturalized in Northern Europe, Canada, and United States south to North Carolina.
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are eaten and spread by birds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Not poisonous, but berries contain berberine that can cause stomach upset, especially with children.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Broad
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Coarse
    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
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Red ellipsoids 1/3 of an inch with 1 to 3 small black seeds. Berries red or purple, juicy and solid
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny yellow flowers in late spring to early summer with an unpleasant fragrance. Inflorescences racemose with 10 to 20 flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Oval, 1 to 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide with serrate margins, clustered in groups of 2 to 5. Leaves simple, obovate to oblanceolate or almost elliptic, 1-veined from base, thin and flexible, margins plane, finely serrate and tipped with spines or bristles. Surfaces are smooth.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Bark Description:
    Bark of 2d-year stems gray, glabrous.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stems dimorphic, with long primary and short axillary shoots.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy