Japanese barberry
Berberis thunbergii DC.


Berberis thunbergii is a small deciduous shrub from 2-8 ft. (0.6-2.4 m) tall. The thin, grooved branches have thin, straight spines. Berberis thunbergii is very shade-tolerant and can form dense stands which shade out and displace native species.
The leaves are up to 1 in. (24 mm) long and paddle-shaped.
The pale-yellow flowers occur in drooping clusters of 2-5 and develop in mid-spring to early summer.
The berries ripen to a bright red color and are 0.25-0.3 in. (7-10 mm) long.
Ecological Threat
Berberis thunbergii invades a variety of habitats from shaded woodlands to open fields and wetlands. Berberis thunbergii is rapidly spread by birds that eat the berries thus dispersing the seeds. It is native to Asia and was first introduced into The United States in 1864 as an ornamental. It is still widely planted for landscaping and hedges.


Selected Images


EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

Invasive Listing Sources

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Berberidaceae
Genus: Berberis
Subject: Berberis thunbergii DC.


Plants - Shrub or Subshrub