Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry - Berberis thunbergii

General Description
Japanese barberry is a dense, deciduous shrub that can grow over 3 feet tall in Northeast Ohio. It tolerates a wide range of conditions, allowing it to live in diverse habitats such as closed-canopy forests, open woodlands, wetlands, fields, and roadsides.

Barberry is a compact, spiny shrub. Its narrow, oval leaves are ½ to 1½ inches long and range in color from green to bluish-green to dark reddish purple. Abundant pale yellow flowers, in clusters of two to four, occur along the entire stem. Flowering occurs from mid-April to May.

Seeds of this Japanese native were sent to the United States for ornamental purposes.

How It Spreads
Seeds are eaten by birds and rabbits, which aid in spreading barberry. In addition, barberry can regenerate by clonal root spread.

Control Methods
In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, barberry control occurs after mid-August to avoid impacting songbirds that may use these plants as nesting sites. Plants may be pulled by hand, making sure all connected roots are removed to avoid re-sprouting. Thick gloves should be worn to avoid injury from spines.

Last updated: August 3, 2021

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