Factsheet S11: Barberries (Berberis spp.)


The barberries (Berberis spp) are a group of evergreen and deciduous thorny shrubs, with some 450 species in Europe, N.Africa, N. & S.America and Asia. They are found wild in or by light woodlands. Most are small or large shrubs up to 3 m (10 ft) high.
General characteristics are: wood and inner bark is yellow; leaves, often with spiny margins, are borne in clusters, and on long shoots often develop 3-parted thorns; flowers, often borne in profusion in spring or summer, are normally yellow or orange, and pollinated by insects, some by bees; fruits are richly-coloured berries, sometimes persisting into winter, with 1 or more small seeds (seed counts vary, but typically there are 60-80,000 seeds per Kg). Fruits mostly ripen in late summer – September onwards. Many of the deciduous species have brightly coloured autumn leaves.

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