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Gagnepain's Barberry

Berberis gagnepainii

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Berberidaceae (Barberry)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, parks, riverbanks, walls, woodland.

Yellow, 6 petals
Golden yellow flowers are produced in clusters of about 5 or 6 (but sometimes up to 12), borne on short shoots. Pollinated by insects.
Waxy, bluish-black, oblong fruit. 1cm in length. The seeds ripen in September and October.
A thorny shrub with simple, lanceolate, toothed leaves. The thorns on the branches are 3-spined. The teeth on the leaf margins are tipped by short spines too. Chinese Barberry (Berberis julianae) is similar in appearance but that has glossy, wider leaves and fluted branches. The leaves of Gagnepain's Barberry sometimes turn red in autumn.
Other Names:
Black Barberry.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Berberis gagnepainii, also known as Gagnepain's barberry, is a species of flowering plant that is native to China. It is a member of the barberry family and is known for its small, yellow flowers and spiny, evergreen leaves. Berberis gagnepainii is an ornamental plant that is commonly grown in gardens for its attractive foliage and flowers. It is a slow-growing shrub that can reach heights of up to 2 meters (6 feet) and has a dense, upright growth habit. The leaves of Berberis gagnepainii are oblong in shape and are a glossy, dark green color. The plant produces small, yellow flowers that are followed by small, purple or black berries. Berberis gagnepainii is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, making it a popular choice for gardeners in many different climates.


Gagnepain's Barberry (Berberis gagnepainii) is a unique and stunning shrub that has recently gained popularity among plant enthusiasts. This beautiful plant, also known as Gagnepain's Berberis, is native to Southeast Asia and is prized for its intricate and ornate foliage, as well as its striking red berries.

The plant is highly adaptable, and can thrive in a variety of soil types and climates. This makes it an excellent choice for both gardeners and landscapers, as it can be used in a variety of settings, from woodland gardens to urban landscapes.

The Gagnepain's Barberry is a slow-growing shrub, reaching an average height of 5-6 feet. Its leaves are small and intricately shaped, with a bright green color that provides a striking contrast against the plant's bright red berries. The berries are produced in late summer and early fall, and they provide a bright pop of color that can last well into winter.

The plant's ornate foliage and striking berries make it a popular choice for use as a hedge or screen, as well as a specimen plant in the landscape. It is also commonly used in bonsai, as its dense growth habit and intricate foliage make it an excellent choice for the art form.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Gagnepain's Barberry is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to add a touch of beauty to their landscape while also enjoying its potential health benefits.

Gagnepain's Barberry is also a great choice for low maintenance gardens. It requires very little maintenance, and once established, it is quite drought tolerant. Pruning can be done in early spring to maintain its shape and size, but it is not required.

When planting Gagnepain's Barberry, it is important to choose a location with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is also important to plant the shrub in an area with adequate space for it to grow, as it can reach up to 6 feet tall and wide.

One thing to keep in mind with Gagnepain's Barberry is that it is known to have invasive tendencies in some regions. It is important to check with local authorities before planting it in your garden to ensure it is not on any invasive species lists.

Overall, Gagnepain's Barberry is an excellent choice for those looking for a low maintenance, yet beautiful plant for their garden or landscape. Its ornate foliage and striking berries are sure to attract the attention of all who see it, making it a treasured addition to any collection.

Another benefit of Gagnepain's Barberry is its ability to attract wildlife. The red berries are a popular food source for birds, and the dense growth habit of the shrub provides shelter for a variety of wildlife species. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to create a wildlife-friendly garden.

Gagnepain's Barberry is also a great choice for those looking to incorporate a touch of Asian flair into their garden. Its native range in Southeast Asia, combined with its intricate foliage and striking berries, make it an excellent choice for adding an exotic touch to the landscape.

In terms of pests and diseases, Gagnepain's Barberry is relatively resistant. However, it is important to keep an eye out for scale insects, which can be controlled with horticultural oils or insecticidal soap. It is also important to ensure the plant is not over-watered, as this can lead to root rot.

In conclusion, Gagnepain's Barberry is a unique and beautiful plant that is well worth considering for your garden or landscape. With its ornate foliage, striking berries, adaptability, and low maintenance requirements, it is sure to become a treasured addition to any collection. Whether you are looking to attract wildlife, add a touch of Asian flair, or simply enjoy a stunning ornamental shrub, Gagnepain's Barberry is an excellent choice.


Gagnepain's Barberry filmed at Hidcote in Gloucestershire on the 30th June 2023.


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Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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