Common name: Japanese Barberry, Thunberg's Barberry, Red Barberry
Berberis thunbergii DC. APNI*
Description: Dense, often compact, deciduous shrub to 1 (–3) m high; young stems grooved, finely warty or smooth, dark reddish, spines simple (occasionally 3-fid), 5–18 mm long.
Leaves spathulate to elliptic or obovate (sometimes appearing rhombic- or diamond-shaped),10–25 (–35) mm long, mostly 5–15 mm wide, thin, glabrous, margin entire, venation more or less obscure, upper surface green or yellow-green, dull, lower surface greyish, base tapering, apex rounded or obtuse; petiole to 8 mm long.
Flowers (1–) 2–5 (rarely to 12) in umbels or subumbellate racemes, yellow stained red, to c. 10 mm across.
Berries elliptisoid, to 8 mm long, to 4 mm wide, red, shiny, without a bloom, style absent, ovules 1 or 2.
Flowering: mainly late spring to early summer.
Distribution and occurrence: recorded locally naturalised at Mount Wilson in understorey of tall open eucalypt forest. Native to Japan and E Asia.
NSW subdivisions: *CT
Widely grown with several well known cultivars. Leaves can be deep purple, yellow, dark green, pink and variegated and many forms have outstanding autumn colour.
Text by B.M. Wiecek (based partly on The European Garden Flora and RHS Dictionary of Gardening); updated by P.G. Kodela, April 2017, referring to Flora of China and Flora of North America
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed April 2017)
APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.