Noxious Weeds Profile: Common Barberry

Table of Contents


  • English - common barberry
  • French - épine-vinette commune, berbéris vulgaire
  • Latin - Berberis vulgaris L.


Common barberry (A - spiny branches with clusters of red berries; B - flowering branch).

Common barberry
(A - spiny branches with clusters of red berries; B - flowering branch).

Current Status

  • Ontario Weeds Act - noxious
  • Other provinces - noxious in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec
  • Canadian Federal Seeds Act - no
  • U.S. Federal Noxious Weed - no
  • U.S. Noxious State Reg - none


  • Pub 505 - Leaves become infested with the fungus which causes stem rust on oats, barley, rye and wheat. The fungus overwinters on this species and then spreads to the cereal crops causing early season disease infestations.
  • NE Weeds - not included
  • Canadian Poison Plant - not listed
  • Cornell Poison Plant - not listed


  • Introduced as an ornamental plant and now occurs along fence lines, roadsides, riverbanks and edges of wooded areas throughout southern Ontario.

Growth Habit

  • Perennial

Method of Propagation

  • Seeds


  • New shoots readily grow from cut stumps. Cut and chemically treat stumps in autumn. Control is labour intensive. Tops are usually cut off manually and then stumps treated with a basal bark or stump herbicide treatment. Mowing or spraying of small plants can be successful to maintain control.

Other Comments

  • Similar to Japanese barberry which does not normally host the rust fungus. Hybids of these two species may host the fungus. Populations are relatively stable and much lower than for European buckthorn. Rust does not occur every year but can cause significant impact in some years.

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