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Chinese Barberry

Berberis julianae

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Berberidaceae (Barberry)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, parks, riversides, roadsides, walls, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow or orange flowers, tinged with red. In clusters of up to 25 flowers.
Purplish-black, elliptical berries, up to 6mm long. In fruit from July to November.
A dense bush with glossy, dark green, spiny, obovate leaves. The leaves are pale beneath. The branches contain long spines. The Gagnepain's Barberry (Berberis gagnepainii) is a similar looking shrub but that grows to about half the height and has narrower, matte leaves. The distinguishing feature of Chinese Barberry is that it has fluted branches. Gagnepain's Barberry does not have fluted branches. Within the British Isles Chinese Barberry occasionally self-seeds and grows in the wild, particularly around London and north west England.
The flowers are scented.
Other Names:
Gagnepain's Barberry, Himalayan Barberry, Julian's Barberry, Wintergreen Barberry.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Berberis julianae, also known as Julian's barberry or Himalayan barberry, is a species of flowering plant that is native to China and India. It is a member of the barberry family and is known for its small, yellow flowers and spiny, deciduous leaves. Berberis julianae is an ornamental plant that is commonly grown in gardens for its attractive foliage and flowers. It is a shrub that can reach heights of up to 3 meters (10 feet) and has a dense, upright growth habit. The leaves of Berberis julianae are oblong in shape and are a glossy, dark green color. The plant produces small, yellow flowers that are followed by small, red or black berries. Berberis julianae is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, making it a popular choice for gardeners in many different climates.


Chinese Barberry (Berberis julianae) is a species of flowering shrub that belongs to the Berberidaceae family. It is native to China, Japan and Korea, but has been introduced to many other regions across the world due to its ornamental value.

The Chinese Barberry is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 4 meters tall, with a spread of up to 3 meters. The leaves are simple and oval-shaped, measuring about 3 to 5 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width. They are green on top and blue-grey on the bottom. In spring, the shrub produces yellow flowers that grow in clusters, followed by small red berries in autumn.

One of the most notable features of the Chinese Barberry is its adaptability to different types of soil and climate conditions. This shrub can grow in sandy, loamy or clay soils, and can withstand harsh conditions such as droughts, heavy rainfall, and cold temperatures. Additionally, it is highly resistant to pests and diseases, making it an ideal choice for landscaping purposes.

The Chinese Barberry is also prized for its ornamental value. The yellow flowers and red berries add vibrant color to gardens and landscapes, while the evergreen foliage provides a lush backdrop throughout the year. This shrub is often used as a specimen plant, in group plantings, or as a hedge.

Despite its many benefits, the Chinese Barberry is considered an invasive species in some regions. This is because the shrub is able to spread quickly and displace native vegetation. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of where the Chinese Barberry is planted, and to take steps to control its spread if necessary.

Aside from its ornamental value, the Chinese Barberry also has various traditional medicinal uses. The plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, the dried roots, stems, and fruits of the Chinese Barberry are used to treat conditions such as fever, sore throat, diarrhea, and skin diseases.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the Chinese Barberry is also used as a food source. The red berries are edible, and they can be used to make jams, jellies, and syrups. They are also added to salads and other dishes to add flavor and color.

Another important aspect of the Chinese Barberry is its wildlife value. The shrub provides habitat and food for various species of birds, mammals, and insects, making it an important component of the ecosystem. The red berries are a popular food source for birds, and the shrub provides cover and nesting sites for various bird species.

In recent years, the Chinese Barberry has been the subject of scientific research for its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the compounds present in the plant have various therapeutic effects, including the treatment of various diseases. For example, research has shown that the plant has anti-cancer properties, and that it may be effective in the treatment of certain types of cancer. Other studies have shown that the plant has antidiabetic effects, and that it may be useful in the management of diabetes.

The Chinese Barberry has also been found to have immunomodulatory effects, which means that it can help regulate the immune system. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with autoimmune disorders, as well as for those who are prone to infections.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Chinese Barberry is also valued for its ornamental qualities. The shrub has attractive yellow flowers that bloom in spring, followed by red berries in autumn. The bright red berries and evergreen foliage provide color and interest throughout the year, making the Chinese Barberry a popular choice for landscaping purposes.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to be aware that the Chinese Barberry is considered an invasive species in some regions. The shrub has a tendency to spread quickly, and it can displace native vegetation. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of where the Chinese Barberry is planted, and to take steps to control its spread if necessary.

In conclusion, the Chinese Barberry (Berberis julianae) is a versatile and valuable plant that has medicinal, ornamental, and wildlife value. Whether you are a gardener, landscaper, or just someone interested in the benefits of plants, the Chinese Barberry is definitely worth considering. Just be mindful of its invasive nature, and take steps to control its spread if necessary.


Video 1: 

Chinese Barberry filmed at various locations around Lancashire in 2022 and 2023.


Video 2:

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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