Wintergreen barberry

Wintergreen barberry

Berberis julianae

Common Name:

Wintergreen barberry

Scientific Name:

Berberis julianae

Alternative common names:

Chinese barberry, Julian`s barberry.


The wintergreen barberry is a dense evergreen shrub that can grow up to about 4 m tall. It has very characteristic three-branched thorns occurring at the nodes. The leaves are clustered, shiny dark green above, leathery and have a heavily spine margin. They develop a red colour in the winter months. The flowers are small, yellow and occur in clusters throughout the plant. The fruits are bluish-black berries that are toxic if ingested.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Central China

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Not listed

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Golden Gate Highlands National Park in Eastern Free State.

How does it spread?

It spreads by stolon's and is very tolerant of hard pruning. It's usually found along roadsides and forest edges.

Why is it a problem?

Altering soil chemistry, lowering veld carrying capacity and preventing access to watercourses when occurring in dense thickets. They can also replace indigenous vegetation to the detriment of the ecosystem as a whole. Also able to survive in a wide variety of environments, forming very dense patches that dominate native habitats. The prevalent sharply-toothed leaves of wintergreen barberry drastically limit its predators, allowing it to grow virtually unchecked.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Clustered, shiny dark green above, leathery and have a heavily spine margin.

Flowers: Small, yellow and occur in clusters throughout the plant.

Fruit/seeds: Bluish-black berries.

Does the plant have any uses?

Landscaping industry where they are planted to form impenetrable hedges and barriers due to their spiny nature. It is also used in indigenous medicinal practices.

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