The WALA Plant Library

Synonyms for Barberry: Berbery, Pipperidge Bush, European Barberry, Jaundice-berry, Piprage
Scientific Name: Berberis vulgaris L.
Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)


Twice a year the thorny barberry bush catches our eye: in May and June when the bushes, which can reach a height of four metres, are covered over and over with clusters of yellow, sweet-scented flowers, and again from August into the winter when the pollinated flowers have grown into bright red, acid berries. Each individual berry is narrow and cylindrical in shape. Together they clothe the bush in a mantle of colour which is the last thing to remain on the bush at the end of the year even after all the leaves have been shed. The fruits become more and more acid as they ripen. The flower colour is found again inside the plant. The wood and particularly the roots are bright yellow to orange in colour. The bush is densely covered with thorns, standing singly or in groups, which are in origin actually transformed leaves. Barberry is found in hedges and bushy places, on sunny hills and slopes. All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruits are slightly poisonous because of the alkaloids they contain.