Content Detail

Showy yellow flower clusters, reddish-purple fall color, and persistent egg-shaped red berries make Korean barberry an attractive year-round shrub. May be difficult to locate in nursery trade. Barberry are also on some state lists as invasive.

  • Family (English) Barberry
  • Family (botanic) Berberidaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Road salt
  • Season of interest early winter, mid spring, late spring, midsummer, late summer, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Oval, Round, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Korea.

Bark color and texture:

Thin, reddish-brown stem with short, stiff spines. Stems are slightly flattened with ridges.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, simple, small, and  elliptical  with elongated petioles. Medium to dark green in color during the growing season, leaves turn a reddish-orange in the fall, holding late into the season.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

The inflorescence is a showy, 3 to 4 inch long, drooping raceme made up of tiny, 1/4 inch  yellow flowers 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit is a bright red, egg-shaped berry persisting into winter. Birds are attracted to the fruit which disperses this shrub into native areas.

Plant care:

The Korean barberry is a multi-stemmed, upright shrub reaching 4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. Site it in full sun for best flowering potential, but it is tolerant of shade. It is  adaptable to all soil types except wet soil and can be pruned at any time. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances and resistance:

Very few disease or insect problems are associated with this shrub. Berberis can  provide beauty to gardens and landscapes, but has become highly invasive in parts of the U.S. Tolerant of salt and deer.


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