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Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Summer Summer

There are many species of barberry, most with green leaves, this shrub with it’s purple leaves is easy to identify but has extremely sharp thorns so care should be taken when collecting the berries. Barberry should not be consumed if you are taking any medications for the following conditions, thinning blood, blood pressure, diabetes, antibiotics or a drug called Celecoxib. Barberry will not affect every drug in the above list so it is best to talk to your doctor if you are planning eating any and suffer any of these issues.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Barberry, Barberry, Berberis
Scientific Name Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea
Season Start Sep
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The leaves are rounded or spoon shaped, red/purple/green on top and paler and green underneath. Other varieties of Barberry have mainly green leaves, some with spines.


Has six yellow/orange/red petals and six sepals. Can grow singly or in clusters or racemes.


Small, shiny, oblong red fruits with small seeds in the centre.


The stems have very sharp long thorns.


Mainly planted in gardens and parks but can be found in the wild as birds can spread the seeds and they will propagate quite easily.


Sharp and acidic with an underlying sweet taste.




Care should be taken when collecting the fruit as the plant has nasty long thorns.

Medicinal Uses

Barberries have been used in the past as a herbal medicine but are now considered unsafe due to possible adverse reactions with some prescription drugs.

Other Facts

The Barberry is very close to Mahonia, the two were thought to be the same but genetic studies have proved them to be from different genera.
A yellow dye can be produced from the roots, bark and stem of the plant.


2 comments for Barberry

  1. MR HOWARD R DARE says:

    Please could you specify which prescription medicines produce an adverse reaction with this berry.

    The barberry features in several of Ottolenghi’s recipes. Impossible to buy in Jerusalem, from where some of the recipes come (I tried). Now I find I have it growing in my garden!

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Barberry should not be consumed if you are on the following medications for, thinning blood, blood pressure, diabetes, antibiotics or a drug called Celecoxib.

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