Ontario Trees & Shrubs website

Japanese Barberry
Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) French names: Épine-vinette du Japon

Family: Barberry Family (Berberidaceae)

Group: Barberries

Distinctive features: Shrub; Leaf edges are untoothed (entire). Single thorns.

Similar species:
  •   European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) - very similar.

  •   American Barberry (Berberis canadensis) - not in Ontario.


Flowers: Summer;  Yellow;  6 parts (petals)

Leaves: Simple, Entire;  Obovate, untoothed.

Trunk: Wood yellow inside.

Fruit/Seeds: Single berries hanging down.

Habitat: Forests, Fields and Open Areas;  Woods.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 354   

Native/Non-native: Non-native

Status: Common, invasive.

Notes: Alien species.

See Also:
  •   Invaders: Barberry and Winged Euonymus, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney


Photographs: 76 photographs available, of which 12 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry leaves along a branch, with flower buds.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Closeup of the stem. The single thorns are also visible here.

(European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) has thorns in bunches of three).

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Detail of Japanese Barberry leaves, showing untoothed edges.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

The yellow flowers of Japanese Barberry are very pale, almost white.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Flower buds.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) flowers

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Closeup of Japanese Barberry flowers.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry berries in winter. Note they hang down singly, unlike the bunches of European Barberry.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Ripe Japanese Barberry fruit.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

The Japanese Barberry shrub in winter. The thorny stems make it very hard to go through a thicket of these shrubs!


Range map for Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)