Identification

Berberis vulgaris

Berberis vulgaris, also known as common barberryEuropean barberry or simply barberry, is a shrub in the genus Berberis. It produces edible but sharply acidic berries.

Berberis vulgaris is an upright, deciduous shrub that can reach 13 ft. (4 m) in height, although most plants are less than 6 feet tall.

It produces hanging clusters of yellow flowers in May and June, and red fruits in late summer and fall.

Foliage and leaves

The leaves are small oval, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) long and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) broad, with a serrated margin; they are borne in clusters of 2–5 together, subtended by a three-branched spine 3–8 mm long.

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Flowers and fruit

The flowers are yellow, 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) across, produced on 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in) long panicles in late spring.

The fruit is an oblong red berry 7–10 mm (0.28–0.39 in) long and 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) broad, ripening in late summer or autumn; they are edible but sour.

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Spines and saplings

Common barberry has distinctive three-part thorns, and arching branches which begin new saplings when they come into contact with the soil.

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How to record a sighting 

If you spot common barberry, you can record the sighting through iNaturalist. You can find more about this here, or you can go straight to the iNaturalist project page below.

Download this guide 

You can download this guide as an offline PDF version from the link below.