Invasive Species -


Common Barberry
(Berberis vulgaris L.)

Photos & Description courtesy of IPANE

Where it's from:




There are three barberrys to learn. Previously described Japanese barberry, Common barberry (B. vulgaris), and American barberry (B. Canadensis).


The difficulty is the non-invasive American b. looks a lot like the invasive Common b.  You can tell the American barberry by the color of the young twigs – brown-red.


The Common b. differs from the Japanese with spiny toothed leaves and long clusters of leaves.


Treat the Common b. just like you do the Japanese b. Click here for details on how to manage it.


Common Name

Full Scientific Name

Common barberry
European barberry
Berberis vulgaris L.

Family Name Common

Family Scientific Name

Barberry family Berberis vulgaris



Botanical Glossary

Berberis vulgaris is an upright and arching shrub that can reach 3 m (10 ft.) in height. The branches are grooved, gray and glabrous, and usually have groupings of three spines (or as few as one) along them. The spines are usually rounded, but can rarely be flattened. The dull green leaves are obovate to obovate-oblong and have finely serrate margins (occasionally the serrations are more prominent). The leaves are alternate or fascicled and are 2-5 cm (0.75-2 in.) in length. The bright yellow flowers of Berberis vulgaris have an unpleasant smell. They are arranged in pendant racemes that can be 3-6 cm (1-2 in.) long with 10 to 20 flowers on each. These flowers usually appear from late May into June. The fruit are ellipsoid in shape, red in color and are around 1 cm (0.4 in.) long. They contain 1-3 small, black seeds. Page References Bailey 411, Fernald 674, Flora of North America 277, Gleason & Cronquist 64, Holmgren 62, Magee & Ahles 517, Newcomb 354.

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