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Barberry - a large genus of shrubs, less often trees, of the Barberry family



Barberry - a large genus of shrubs, less often trees, of the Barberry family

Distribution and ecology

It is bred in gardens and is occasionally found between shrubs in the north to St. Petersburg, as well as in southern and central Europe, the Crimea, the Caucasus, Iran, Eastern Siberia, and North America. Some species are found in Central Asia, including in the mountains of the Trans-Ili Alatau in Kazakhstan.

Winter-hardy, heat-resistant; can be content with poor soil; stagnant moisture is not tolerated; quite light-loving. They give abundant shoots from the stump.

Propagated by sowing seeds, dividing the bush and summer cuttings. Seeds should be stratified immediately after harvest or sown before winter. Seed collection time - September - November. Seedlings with aboveground elliptical thickish green cotyledons 9-12 (15) mm long and 4-8 mm wide; the first leaves are much smaller than the subsequent ones and differ from them in shape.

Botanical description

Barberry common. Botanical illustration from O. W. Thome's book Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, 1885

Blooming Berberis chinensis

Evergreen, semi-evergreen (partially deciduous) or deciduous shrubs, rarely small trees, with thin, erect, ribbed shoots branching at an acute angle. The bark is brownish or brownish-gray.

Kidneys 3-7 mm long, naked or with small, about 1-2 mm long, sharp scales; in evergreen species, the outer bud scales remain at the base of the new shoot. Whorled leaf arrangement; leaves are collected in bunches, 4 (2-7) on shortened shoots. Leaves ovate, lanceolate, elliptical or obovate, articulating with a short petiole, glabrous, mostly bluish-green above, bluish below, lighter, prickly-toothed, finely ciliated or entire. Stipules are foliate, prickly-toothed or turned into 1-3-5-segmented spines, larger and more powerful on root offspring.

flower diagram

Flowers in racemes on short lateral branches, rarely in few-flowered bunches at the top of shortened shoots. The sepals are eight to nine, colored and therefore similar to petals, the outer ones are much smaller. Corolla of six yellow petals, each with two nectaries at the base. Stamens 6; pistil 1, with a short style, single-celled ovary with a few ovules.

The fruit is a berry, elliptical, ovoid or almost spherical, 0.8-1.2 cm long, black or red, with a dried stigma remaining, with one to five seeds. Seeds are terete, ribbed, narrowed at both ends, brown, shiny, 4-6 mm long, 1.8-3 mm wide.

Significance and application

Berberis trifoliolata fruits

From the bark, roots and wood, you can get a yellow paint, similar to gummigut.

Of all fruit crops, barberry contains the most acids - up to 14.25%.[2] Edible berries contain malic acid, citric acid and tartaric acid. Previously used in pharmacies radix berberidis and cortex berberidis.

Leaves are used for marinades, berries - for making drinks, jams, marshmallows and sweets.

Dried berries are often used as seasonings for rice dishes: risotto, sweet rice porridge, lamb pilaf.

Many species are honey-bearing. Barberry honey is golden yellow, with a delicate sweet taste[3].

Holds up well to haircuts. Widely used for borders and edging, as well as for hedges. Abundantly bloom and bear fruit; in autumn they have yellow and red foliage. Berries of many species remain on the branches for a long time.


The wood is sapwood, bright or pale yellow, often with a brown false heartwood, annular. Annual rings are clearly visible, sometimes wavy. The rays are homogeneous, from two to eight rows, visible on all cuts. Vessels with simple perforation. Intervascular porosity is another. Within the genus, the structure of wood is more or less uniform.

Hard dense wood with a high bulk density (0.70-0.90) is used for small turning products and for shoe nails, sometimes for inlay work. It has a peculiar color and decorative (mirror or scaly) texture. Himalayan species of barberry are widely used by Indian craftsmen for inlay and mosaic work.



The genus Barberry is included in the tribe Barberry (Berberideae) of the subfamily Barberry (Berberidoideae) of the family Barberry (Berberidaceae) of the order Ranunculales.


Main article: Species of the genus Barberry

According to the database The Plant List, the genus includes 580 species [4]. Some of them:

Berberis actinacantha mart. ex Schult. & Schult.f. - prickly barberry

Berberis acuminata Franch. - Barberry pointed

Berberis aemulans C.K. Schneid. - Barberry imitating

Berberis aetnensis C.Presl - Etna barberry

Berberis aggregata C.K. Schneid. – Aggregate barberry

Berberis amurensis Rupr. - Amur barberry

Berberis aristata DC. - Barberry spinous

Berberis asiatica Roxb. ex DC. - Asian barberry

Berberis brachypoda Maxim. - Barberry short-legged

Berberis canadensis Mill. - Canadian barberry

Berberis candidula (C.K. Schneid.) C.K. Schneid. - Barberry gray-white

Berberis circumserrata (C.K. Schneid.) C.K. Schneid. - Barberry kruglospilchaty

Berberis concinna Hook.f. & Thomson - Barberry slender

Berberis crataegina DC. – hawthorn barberry

Berberis cretica L. - Cretan barberry

Berberis diaphana Maxim. — Barberry transparent

Berberis dictyophylla Franch. - Reticulate barberry

Berberis francisciferdinandi C.K. Schneid. - Barberry Francis Ferdinand

Berberis gagnepainii C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Ganyepena

Berberis giraldii Hesse - Barberry Giralda

Berberis heteropoda Schrenk

Berberis ilicifolia G. Forst. - Holly barberry

Berberis iliensis Popov - Ili barberry

Berberis integerrima Bunge

Berberis jamesiana Forrest & W.W.Sm. — Barberry James

Berberis julianae C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Juliana

Berberis kaschgarica Rupr. – Kashgar barberry

Berberis levis Franch. - tender barberry

Berberis lycium Royle

Berberis nummularia Bge. - Barberry coin, or Barberry coin-like

Berberis oblonga (Regel) C.K. Schneid. - Barberry oblong

Berberis pachyacantha Koehne

Berberis petiolaris Wall. ex G.Don - petiolate barberry

Berberis poiretii C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Poiret

Berberis polyantha Hemsl. - Barberry multiflora

Berberis prattii C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Pratt

Berberis pruinosa Franch. - gray barberry

Berberis sargentiana C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Sargent

Berberis sibirica Pall. — Siberian barberry

Berberis sieboldii Miq. — Barberry Siebold

Berberis stolonifera Koehne et Wolf

Berberis thunbergii DC. — Barberry Thunberg

Berberis veitchii C.K. Schneid. — Barberry Vicha

Berberis vernae C.K. Schneid. — Spring barberry

Berberis verruculosa Hemsl. & E.H.Wilson - Warty barberry

Berberis virescens Hook.f. & Thomson - Greenish barberry

Berberis vulgaris L. - common barberry

Berberis wallichiana DC. — Barberry Wallich

Berberis wilsoniae Hemsl. — Barberry Wilson

Berberis yunnanensis Franch. – Yunnan barberry

The species Barberry boxwood (Berberis buxifolia Lam.) is recognized as a synonym for the species Berberis microphylla G.Forst..

Oriental barberry species (Berberis orientalis Schneid.) is recognized as a synonym for common barberry species (Berberis vulgaris L.).


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