Working together to protect New Zealand

Weed Information

Weed Information Sheet

Browse Weeds by Alphabet

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Barberry

Botanical Name

Berberis glaucocarpa

Family

Berberidaceae (barberry) family

Also known as

Berberis aristata, Berberis vulgaris

Where is it originally from?

Himalayas

What does it look like?

Evergreen or semi-deciduous, spiny, yellow-wooded shrub to 4-5 m (occasionally 7m) tall. Stems are tough and woody, with yellowish-grey bark and tough, very sharp, single or three pronged spines (to 23 mm long) where the leaves meet the stem. Leathery leaves (25-75 x 10-25 mm) are variably-shaped, usually spiny-serrate and often turn reddish in autumn. Clusters (up to 6 cm long) of smelly yellow flowers (5-7 mm diameter) are produced from October to November and are followed from March to May by oval, reddish-black berries (7-12 mm) with a dusty white look to them and dark red juice.

Are there any similar species?

European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is deciduous and has red berries. B. souliena and B. wilsonae are both cultivated. Darwin's barberry (B. darwinii) is similar but has bright orange flowers.

Why is it weedy?

Long-lived and produces long-lived, well-dispersed seeds. Tolerates hot to cool temperatures, damp to dry conditions, high wind, salt, little shade, damage (not grazed) and many soil types.

How does it spread?

Birds and possibly possums eat berries and spread the seeds. Occasionally spread by soil and water movement. Farm hedges, roadsides, old homesteads, and plantation forest are seed sources. Barberry is variable in seeding habit, some plants produce much viable seed, others little or none.

What damage does it do?

Scattered plants (occasionally dense stands) replace native species, occasionally permanently in open habitats.

Which habitats is it likely to invade?

Disturbed forest and shrubland, short tussockland, and bare and stony land.

What can I do to get rid of it?

  1. Stump swab (all year round): metsulfuron-methyl 600g/kg (5g/L) or Tordon Brushkiller (300ml/L).
    2. Cut and squirt (all year round): 1g metsulfuron-methyl 600g/kg /100mm of trunk.
    3. Injection method: drill holes sloping into the sapwood at regular intervals around the tree and apply glyphosate (250ml/L) into holes.
    4. Spray (spring-autumn only): glyphosate (150ml/15L (knapsack) or (1L/100L (spraygun) or metsulfuron-methyl 600g/kg (7.5g/15L (knapsack) or 35g/100L (spraygun) or Tordon Brushkiller (90ml/15L (knapsack) or 500ml/100L (spraygun)).

What can I do to stop it coming back?

Cut stumps resprout quickly, can be hard to kill. Seed bank reinfests bared areas so avoid non-selective spray use. Poor competitor for space, can be crowded out by planting. Follow up 6-monthly.

Images