Berberis thunbergii

Common Names: Japanese barberry, Thunberg's barberry, red barberry
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Barberry family

It is originally native to Japan and eastern Asia, but has become an invasive species in Connecticut. It is a dense, deciduous, spiny shrub which grows 2 to 8 feet high. It has deeply grooved, brown, spiny branches with usually a single spine at each shoot node. The leaves are green to blue-green (reddish or purple in some horticultural variants), very small, spatula to oval shaped, 12 to 24 mm long and 3 to 15 mm broad; they are produced in clusters. This species is sometimes confused with Berberis canadensis (American barberry), Berberis vulgaris (European barberry), and other deciduous Berberis species; it is most readily distinguished by the flowers being produced in umbels, not racemes.

Commonly grown as an ornamental plant in landscaping, it often escapes and becomes an invasive plant.

Primary Flower Color: Yellow
Secondary Flower Color: Yellow
Edible Notes: The red berries are considered edible, but reported to be very bitter/astringent. Some reports suggest that the fruits may be a good source of Vitamin C. The leaves are reported to be edible if cooked or when young. Due to the bitter flavor and danger of the thorns, this plant is probably best avoided.
Warnings: This plant is covered with long, very sharp, thin spines that easily puncture the skin. There are also reports that ticks climb onto the branches and wait for passing animals to get stuck in the thorns so they can attach.