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Common Barberry

Berberis vulgaris

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)
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
4 metres tall
Cliffs, gardens, hedgerows, mountains, roadsides, rocky places, towns, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 6 petals
Hanging yellow flowers. Insect-pollinated.
Red, globular berries. The seeds ripen in September and October.
Deciduous shrub whose leaves appear from March to November. The leaves are simple, oval and spiny-toothed.
Other Names:
Berberine, European Barberry, Jaundice Berry, Jaundice Tree, Pipeberry.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Berberis vulgaris, also known as common barberry or European barberry, is a species of flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the barberry family and is known for its small, yellow flowers and spiny, deciduous leaves. Berberis vulgaris 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 vulgaris 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 vulgaris is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, making it a popular choice for gardeners in many different climates.


Common Barberry, Berberis vulgaris, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the Berberidaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and is widely grown as an ornamental plant in many countries.

Appearance: The Common Barberry has glossy green leaves and yellow flowers that bloom in spring. The plant produces red, edible berries that are oval shaped.

Culture: Common Barberry is a hardy plant that grows well in a variety of soils and climates. It is drought-resistant and can tolerate partial shade. It is commonly used as a hedge or specimen plant in gardens.

Health Benefits: The Common Barberry has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The berries and roots of the plant contain high levels of berberine, an alkaloid with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The plant has been used to treat digestive problems, skin conditions, and fever.

Invasive Species: Despite its ornamental value, the Common Barberry is considered an invasive species in some areas. It is capable of spreading quickly and outcompeting native vegetation. This is a problem in some regions where it is disrupting local ecosystems.

Uses: In addition to its ornamental value and medicinal properties, the Common Barberry has several other uses. The berries can be used in jams, jellies, and syrups, and the plant is a food source for wildlife. The wood is also used for making furniture and other wooden objects.

Pests and Diseases: The Common Barberry is susceptible to several pests and diseases, including scale insects, aphids, and powdery mildew. To keep the plant healthy, it is important to monitor it regularly for signs of infestation or disease, and take appropriate action if necessary.

Propagation: Common Barberry can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. Cuttings are often preferred because they produce plants that are identical to the parent plant, while seeds may produce plants that are different. When propagating by cuttings, it is important to take cuttings from healthy, mature plants in the late spring or early summer.

Landscape Design: Common Barberry can be used in a variety of ways in landscape design. It can be used as a hedge, an accent plant, or a focal point. It is often used in mixed borders, rock gardens, and naturalized areas. When used as a hedge, it can provide privacy and wind protection.

Overall, the Common Barberry is a valuable and versatile plant that can be used in many different ways in a garden or landscape. Whether grown for its ornamental value, its edible berries, or its medicinal properties, the Common Barberry is sure to add interest and value to any setting.

Berberine Content: Berberine is the main active component in Common Barberry, and it is responsible for many of its medicinal properties. Berberine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects. It has also been found to be effective in treating a wide range of health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

In traditional medicine, the bark, roots, and leaves of the Common Barberry have been used to treat various ailments. In some cultures, the plant is used to treat digestive problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, and dysentery. It is also used to treat skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Culinary Use: The red berries of the Common Barberry are edible and have a tart, juicy flavor. They can be used in a variety of recipes, including jams, jellies, syrups, and pies. The berries are also used to flavor sauces and marinades, and they can be used to make wine and liqueurs.

Ecological Role: In its native range, the Common Barberry provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife species, including birds, small mammals, and insects. The plant also helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, and it can improve the quality of the soil by adding organic matter.

Care and Maintenance: To keep the Common Barberry healthy and looking its best, it is important to provide it with proper care and maintenance. This includes providing it with adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients. The plant should be pruned regularly to control its size and shape, and to encourage new growth.

It is also important to protect the plant from pests and diseases. To do this, it is important to monitor the plant regularly and take action if any problems are detected. This may include applying insecticides or fungicides, or removing infected plant parts.

Design Considerations: When incorporating the Common Barberry into a landscape design, it is important to consider its size, shape, and growing habits. The plant can grow up to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide, so it is important to choose a suitable location that allows for adequate space for the plant to grow.

The Common Barberry also has a dense, spreading habit, which makes it a good choice for use as a hedge or screen. When using it in this way, it is important to plant the shrubs close together, and to prune them regularly to maintain their shape and size.

Overall, the Common Barberry is a valuable and versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways in a landscape design. With proper care and maintenance, it can provide ornamental value, edible fruit, and even medicinal properties, making it a great addition to any garden or yard.


Video 1: Common Barberry filmed in Adlington, Lancashire on the 12th May 2022.


Video 2: Common Barberry filmed at Scout Scar, Cumbria on the 16th July 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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