Botanical Name: Berberis thunbergii
Species: B. thunbergii
Common Names: Japanese barberry, Thunberg’s barberry, or Red barberry
Habiitat: Berberis thunbergii is native to Japan and eastern Asia, though widely naturalized in China and in North America.
Berberis thunbergii is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate. It has deeply grooved, brown, spiny branches with a single (occasionally tridentine) spine (actually a highly modified leaf) at each shoot node. The leaves are green to blue-green (reddish or purple in some horticultural variants), very small, spatula to oval shaped, 12–24 mm long and 3–15 mm broad; they are produced in clusters of 2–6 on a dwarf shoot in the axil of each spine. The flowers are pale yellow, 5–8 mm diameter, produced in drooping 1–1.5 cm long umbrella-shaped clusters of 2–5; flowering is from mid spring to early summer. The edible fruit is a glossy bright red to orange-red, ovoid berry 7–10 mm long and 4–7 mm broad, containing a single seed. They mature during late summer and fall and persist through the winter.
It is in flower in May. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
. Prefers a warm moist loamy soil but it is by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils. Prefers a lime-free soil according to one report. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Succeeds in full sun or light shade. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A commonly grown ornamental plant, there are many named varieties. Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they resprout well from the base. Unlike most other members of this genus, this plant does not usually hybridize with other species. An alternate host of ‘black-stem rust’ of wheat so it has been extensively grubbed up from its habitats. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Inconspicuous flowers or bloom.
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked. Dry with a very poor flavour. The fruits are about 8mm long. Leaves are also cooked and eaten.
The root bark is anthelmintic, antiseptic and febrifuge. Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Berberis species, has marked antibacterial effects. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.
Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control, Foundation, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Massing, Rock garden, Standard, Superior hedge, Specimen, Woodland garden
They are very tolerant of trimming and have prickles which make them an effective barrier to larger creatures. The cultivar ‘Atropurpurea Nana’ can be used for ground cover. It makes a dense covering when planted 30cm apart each way. A yellow dye is obtained from the root and branches. An Ornamental plant.
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