60817It may not look too nasty, but barberry, Berberis thunbergii, is the sort of small hedge that one goes through only once. It does not have big strong branches to hold anyone back. In fact, the limber branches are quite twiggy. The tiny spines are not impressive either, and might go unnoticed by cursory observation. Yet, they are sharp enough and plentiful enough to make quite an impression!

Because it is so unpleasant to prune, barberry should probably be planted where it has room to grow as big as it wants to without bothering anyone. If it is too close to walkways, it will either offend whomever bumps into it, or whomever needs to prune it to keep it out of the way. Mature plants will unfortunately need to be pruned eventually, so that old deteriorating stems can be groomed out.

The most popular cultivars of barberry have dark reddish or purplish foliage. A few are variegated with white; and a few have golden foliage. Green barberries are now uncommon. The tiny leaves turn bright orange in autumn before winter defoliation. Densely dwarf cultivars may not get much taller than two feet. Taller cultivars might get taller than six feet. Some barberries are very vertical.

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11 thoughts on “Barberry

    1. Yes, I remember reading about that when writing about it. It is hard to imagine it being invasive. It does well for us, but needs more water than nature provides in a chaparral climate.

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    1. I thought I saw that somewhere before. Although different pictures, they look similar. There was one with berries, which are rare here. My articles on Mondays and Tuesdays are old articles from previous years, so are sometimes redundant to new articles posted on Thursdays and Fridays.

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    1. That came from an old ‘science’ professor in junior high school. (In junior high school, ‘science’ included little bits of of physics, chemistry, biology, and various other disciplines, so was just known as ‘science’.) There was always some kid who would ask, “Is that poisonous?”. His response was, “Only once.”

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