Berberis vulgaris L. - Common barberry.

Taxonomic position.

Family: Berberidaceae Juss.; genus: Berberis L.

Morphology and biology.

Very branchy perennial shrub up to 2.5 m high. Young branches are yellowish or yellowish-purple, turning grey in the second year of life. Thorns are tripartite, up to 2 cm long. Leaves are membranous, elliptic, obovate, up to 4 cm long, obtuse or less frequently acutate, narrowed into the leafstalk, greenish, and notably reticulate from below. Inflorescences are racemose, up to 6 cm long, consisting of 15-25 flowers. Pedicels are 5-12 mm long, sepals and petals are obovate. Berries are ellipsoid or elliptically oblong, up to 12 mm long, scarlet.Blossoms in May/June.Entomophilous. Zoochore.2n=28.


General distribution: Central Europe, Mediterranean countries, and the Balkans. Within the ex-USSR: European part (Ladoga-Ilmen, Upper- and Middle-Dnieper, Volga-Don, Lower-Don, Near-Black-Sea and Crimean regions) and the Caucasus (Ante-Caucasus).


On forest edges and along mountainsides.

Utilization and economic value.

The wood is very hard, with bright yellow sap-wood. It is used to produce shoe nails and turned work. Berries contain malic acid and are utilized in confectionary production. Besides, they yield a high-quality paint for dyeing leather and wool in a lemon-yellow colour. It is a good nectariferous plant and an excellent ornamental shrub, especially its red-leaved forms.


Cherepanov, S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limicis USSR olim). St-Petersburg, "Mir I Semia", 990 p. (in Russian).
Flora USSR, 1937. Vol. VII. B.K. Shishkin (ed.) M.-L.: Publishing House of Acad. Science, pp. 556-557. (in Russian).
Minjaev N.A. 1981. Manual of the higher plants of North-West part of the RSFSR (Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod district). St.Petersburg, Publishing House of LGU, p. 181. (in Russian).
Tsvelev, N.N. 2000. Manual of the vascular plants of Russia (Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod district). St.Petersburg, Publishing House of SPHFA, p. 305 (in Russian).

© Smekalova, T.N.

Copyright on this picture belongs to Chukhina I.G.

Web design —
Kelnik studios