Leaf: Alternate (appear 3 to 5 whorled along twigs), simple, oval to obovate, finely spinose margin (typically 20 to 30 small spines up one side of leaf), 1 to 2 inches long, dull green to gray green.
Flower: Dangling clusters of small (1/3 inch) yellow flowers, appearing in mid-spring.
Fruit: Dangling clusters of 1/3 inch long egg-shaped red berries; edible but sour, ripen in fall and persist through the winter.
Twig: Slender, red brown, 3-parted thorn at each node, buds small, yellow inner bark.
Bark: Gray to reddish gray with shallow splits; inner bark yellow.
Form: Medium sized multi sucker shrub reaching up to 12 feet tall, arching branches.
Looks like: Japanese barberry - American barberry - wintergreen barberry
Additional Range Information: Berberis vulgaris is planted in the USDA hardiness zones shown above and may seed into the landscape. Download the full-size PDF map.
External Links: USDAFS FEIS Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information