Common Name: Common barberry
Scientific Name: Berberis vulgaris L.
Efforts must be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by the county or local municipality. Minnesota Noxious Weed Law.
Common barberry is native to Asia and has widely naturalized across Europe. It was first brought to North America in the 1600s by early New England settlers and escaped from cultivation. It is widely distributed throughout the northern U.S. states. It has been established in Minnesota since the early 1900s, and is most common in the southeastern part of the state. Common barberry is an alternate host of black stem rust that can cause severe yield losses (50-70%) of small grains. Historical losses were so severe that there was a federal and state eradication effort. Over 1 million barberry plants in Minnesota were destroyed from 1918 – 1990.
Common barberry will grow in dense and open woods, pastures, fencerows, roadsides, clearings, and waste spaces. It can grow in full sun to shade and all soil types.
Common barberry is a prolific seed producer, producing thousands of seeds per bush which are long-lived in the soil and have a high germination rate. Birds are attracted to the fleshy berries and disperse seeds to new areas. It also spreads vegetatively from rhizomes sending up new shoots and can sprout from small rhizome fragments.
Common barberry is most common in southeastern Minnesota. View common barberry distribution in Minnesota.
Common barberry forms dense stands, outcompeting and replacing native species. It can reduce wildlife habitat and forage.
It is an alternate host of black stem rust (Puccinia graminis) and key to sexual reproduction enabling this fungus to produce new races. This stem rust is a fungal disease of concern for small grains like wheat, barley and oats. Currently, the threat to wheat production in Minnesota is reduced by the cultivation of rust resistant varieties of wheat. There is concern that new rust races could form on common barberry and cause yield losses in small grains.
US Forest Service Weed of the Week: Common Barberry
USDA Plants Database: Plants Profile for Berberis vulgaris L.