- Berberis vulgaris is a deciduous shrub that can reach 13 ft. (4 m) in height. Arching branches which come into contact with the soil can produce new plants.
- The leaves are oval, 0.75-2 in. (2-5 cm) long, 0.25-0.75 in. (1-2 cm) wide, serrate and occur in clusters of 2-5. Each cluster of leaves is subtended by a short, three-branched spine.
- Flowering occurs in May to June, when small, yellow, less than 0.25 in. (6 mm) wide flowers develop in dangling racemes. The flowers have an unpleasant odor.
- Berries are red ellipsoids which are less than 0.3 in. (10 mm) in length and contain 1-3 small black seeds. The fruit is dispersed by birds and other wildlife.
- Ecological Threat
- Berberis vulgaris is shade tolerant which allows it to easily invade woodlands. It is also an alternate host for wheat rust (Puccinia graminis) which makes the control and removal of this invasive shrub of primary importance. It was introduced to America during the 17th century. Fruit of Berberis vulgaris was used to make jam, the flowers for dye and the thorny shrub provided effective livestock fencing. It is native to central and southern Europe.
Gucker, Corey L. 2009. Berberis vulgaris. Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory 
University of California, Jepson Flora Project 
Invasive Plant Atlas of New England 
USDA NRCS PLANTS 
USDA ARS GRIN 
Images from Bugwood.org