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Common Name:

Japanese Barberry

Scientific Name:

Berberis thunbergii

Family Name:



Japanese Barberry is a small to medium size deciduous shrub that develops a rounded twiggy crown. Forms with red foliage (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea) or other variegated leaves are available. Thorns can be a maintenance liability, but can be useful when used as a barrier plant.

Plant Habit or Use:

Shrub, small shrub, medium shrub, topiary


sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

Yellow, sparsely borne

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Oblong oval red berries, sparsely borne


4 ft to 6 ft, dwarf types only to 2 ft


4 ft to 6 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Low Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

5, 6, 7, 8

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Soil adaptable as long as moderately well drained. A better plant in USDA zone 7 and north, not particularly vigorous in zone 8.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.