Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Common barberry is a nonnative plant in North America. Its native range is Asia's middle and western mountains, and it is widely introduced throughout Europe [44,77]. Common barberry was brought to North America in the 1600s by early New England settlers (Josselyn 1672 cited in ),, and soon after its introduction, common barrberry escaped from cultivation. Soon after its introduction and escape, common barberry was linked with failing wheat crops . Programs to eliminate and restrict planting of common barberry in North America began in the 18th century, but large-scale cooperative eradication did not occur until the early 1900s. Widespread eradication led to a dramatic decline in common barberry abundance, and common barberry's distribution today is largely the result of successes and failures in eradication (Roelfs 1982 cited in ). Some suggest that common barberry has been "virtually exterminated in the United States" , but populations persist in the eastern Great Plains, Great Lakes states, northeastern United States, and southeastern Canada. Populations also remain in Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Colorado . Large common barberry populations and infestations occur primarily in Ontario and Quebec in Canada  and are scattered through the northeastern United States [2,60,75]. Populations are especially persistent along the Atlantic Coast . Flora of North America provides a distributional map of common barberry.
Introduction and spread in North America: European settlers likely brought common barberry to New England because of its ornamental, food, and medicinal uses [44,57]. Common barberry was growing in early New England settlements by 1671 (Josselyn 1672 cited in ). In the 18th and 19th centuries, common barberry was commonly planted as a hedge and as a source of jam and yellow dye. Plants frequently escaped cultivation and established in natural areas in eastern North America (Roelfs 1982 cited in ). Common barberry was considered a weed in Massachusetts by 1754 . Below is a sporadic timeline that provides information about the spread of common barberry in North America:
- 19th-century catalogs offering common barberry seeds or cuttings were available in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and California; common barberry was sold in the United States by at least 1841 .
- Since at least 1821, common barberry occurred in Pennsylvania's Wyoming County (and perhaps others) .
- In 1850 in Iowa, common barberry was planted as an ornamental and as a hedge to contain livestock .
- In 1885, common barberry was considered abundant in Tottenville, New York .
- As of 1886, common barberry was reported in Summit County, Ohio .
- By 1902, common barberry was occasional along the Quinnipiac River sand plain from New Haven to Meriden, Connecticut .
- In a 1910 Nantucket flora, common barberry was noted along a roadside near Siasconset .
- By the early 1900s, common barberry was widespread in 13 north-central US states (Hutton 1927 cited in ).
- In 1914, common barberry was reported a "considerable distance from any habitation" in Rum Village woods in South Bend, Indiana .
- As of 1921 in Pennsylvania, common barberry was "thoroughly established" in "numerous natural areas"; escaped plants were "exceedingly numerous" in Susquehanna County .
- By 1925, common barberry was common throughout Michigan .
- In a 1937 flora of the Columbia Plateau, common barberry was listed, although not listed in earlier floras from 1892, 1901, or 1914 .
Eradication efforts and effects on local distributions: Soon after the introduction and escape of common barberry in New England, colonists determined it was responsible for dramatic reductions in wheat crop yields . Common barberry is an alternate host for cereal stem rust (Puccinia graminis). As a host, common barberry provides an inoculum source and a sexual reproduction site for stem rust (Leonard 2001 cited in ). When common barberry grows near cereal crops (<330 feet (100 m) away) (Roelfs 1985 cited in ), it can support the development of new genotypes able to adapt and attack rust-resistant crops (Leonard 2001 cited in ). Earlier reports suggested that common barberry in urban areas was also able to spread stem rust to other grasses that eventually passed it on to wheat crops , suggesting there was no safe distance between common barberry and cereal crops. During epidemic stem rust outbreaks, wheat yield losses up to 70% were reported . In 1916, stem rust was considered the principal reason for a 200 million bushel reduction in wheat yields for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana .
In the 18th century, the New England colonists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island wrote laws restricting the planting and spread of common barberry. Over time many other states developed laws against the sale, transport, and planting of new barberry (Berberis spp.) plants and for the removal of established plants. It was not until 1918, after "devastating" wheat losses to stem rust, that federal laws and funding were devoted to eradication. Eradication projects and funding between 1918 and 1942 led to the destruction of 309,645,502 landscape, escaped, and nursery plants from the 964,000 mile² (2,497,000 km²) eradication area that included nearly all of the North American spring-wheat growing areas . Between 1935 and 1950, there were 150,087,197 common barberry or American barberry (B. canadensis) shrubs destroyed in West Virginia . By 1956, nearly 500 million barberry shrubs were killed on 149,318 properties in 19 states . Widespread barberry eradication was "gradually phased out" by 1980 . It is important to note that scattered common barberry populations persist in several areas of North America, and the potential for long-distance seed dispersal by birds makes monitoring and early detection of common barberry important to long-term control.
General effects of eradication efforts on common barberry distribution in North America are summarized below:
- In New Mexico in 1997, common barberry was far less common than it once was because of the USDA eradication program .
- Early USDA records reported common barberry scattered throughout Colorado, but by 1964, it was limited to the north-central part of the state ; as of 1996, common barberry occurred only on the Enchanted Mesa near Boulder because of "deliberate extermination" from wheat-growing areas .
- Although widely planted in the Great Plains, no common barberry plants were found by Stephens  while conducting plant surveys for a North Central Plains flora (covering North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas); common barberry was not reported in the Flora of the Great Plains printed in 1986 .
- As of 1985, common barberry was considered "largely eradicated" from Michigan .
- Although reported from 20 Ohio counties prior to USDA eradication efforts, common barberry was uncommon in the state in 1961 .
- As of 1959, common barberry still occurred in "fair numbers" in Wisconsin; disturbances associated with eradication were considered beneficial to common barberry seedling establishment .
- In the 1970s, common barberry was planted on acidic surface-mine spoils on 2 sites in eastern Kentucky; bareroot stock was obtained from an unidentified nursery .
Although common barberry populations were often reduced or eliminated by eradication efforts, some post-eradication surveys indicate substantial spread from untreated or surviving plants. In Minnesota, researchers surveyed 72 sites treated by federal eradication teams. Surveyed sites had a "high potential" for reemergence, once supported large common barberry populations, and/or occurred in major grain production areas. Of the 72 sites, 32 had common barberry populations supporting 1 to 300 individuals . In eastern Ontario and western Quebec, a 20-year eradication program (initiated in 1964) did not eliminate all common barberry. In the first 5 years of the program, population decreases of 90% or more were common. Eradication was successful at only a few sites where shrubs were initially rare and/or herbicide treatments were repeated for several successive years. Since 1980, there have been few treatments, and common barberry populations have increased "considerably" .
Aboveground description: Common barberry is a deciduous shrub that may reach 10 feet (3 m) tall [27,79]. Shrubs often have 20 to 30 erect, widely spreading stems that droop at the ends, producing an arching form [17,24,35,86]. Simple or 3-pronged thorns occur at stem nodes [27,76]. Thorns measure 1 to 2 cm long . Older stems have gray shredding bark, and individual stems may live up to 30 years .
Common barberry produces simple, alternate leaves that are often clustered on the stem [17,77]. Lance-shaped or egg-shaped leaves measure 0.4 to 2.2 inches (1-5.5 cm) long and are widest at or just above middle. Leaf margins are finely serrate with 8 to 30 spiny teeth [27,49,65,76,79]. Common barberry flowers occur in a drooping 0.8- to 2.4-inch (2-6 cm) long raceme. Inflorescences are typically comprised of 10 to 20 flowers [27,79]. Individual flowers are up to 8 mm across, with 6 petals and 6 stamens [81,84]. Stamens are contact-sensitive and "spring violently" against the stigma when touched . Common barberry fruits are egg-shaped, 1- to 3-seeded berries that measure up to 0.5 inch (12 mm) long [24,35,77]. In the Tullgarn area of Sweden, fruits averaged 4.1 mm in diameter, 0.09 g when fresh, and produced an average of 1.3 seeds/fruit . On Spain's Iberian Peninsula, common barberry averaged 1.6 seeds/fruit [36,37]. Common barberry seeds are about 6 mm long .
|Photo © 2004 Dr. Amadej Trnkoczy||Photo © 2005 Dr. Amadej Trnkoczy|
Belowground description: Common barberry root and rhizome growth is often extensive. Surrounding the common barberry root crown is a "thick mass of fibrous roots". Large lateral roots occur several inches to more than a foot under ground. Lateral roots may be 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter near the root crown and extend 10 to 15 feet (3-4.6 m) from the root crown . Common barberry root growth varies with site conditions. Shrubs in sandy, loose-textured soils produced long lateral roots. Shrubs growing on gentle slopes with deep loam soils did not produce long tap roots (review by ). The review did not indicate whether or not long common barberry tap roots were rare in all habitats.
Rhizomes produced from the root crown typically grow a few inches below ground but may penetrate 2 to 3 feet (0.6-1 m). Rhizomes do not generally grow roots until aerial shoots emerge, at which time a mass of fibrous roots is produced at the point of emergence. Rhizome growth contributes to increasing shrub size, and severing rhizomes results in reproduction (see Vegetative Regeneration) .
Throughout its range, common barberry is often described along roadsides and rivers, in old fields, pastures, clearings, thickets, and woodlands [35,59,84,96]. When eradication sites in Minnesota were monitored for reemergence, common barberry was most common in sparsely to densely wooded areas in the southeastern part of the state . The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory group reported that upland habitats were most commonly invaded . In Maine, common barberry is most often reported in successional old fields and second-growth forests . Common barberry often spreads through pastures and along fencelines in Ontario [52,67]. Likely the establishment and spread of common barberry populations is largely related to Seed dispersal.
Climate: Common barberry's distribution suggests a preference for humid continental climates. Common barberry is considered hardy to low winter temperatures of -40 °F (-40 °C) or lower [24,81]. Based on its US distribution, common barberry likely requires at least 25 inches (630 mm) of annual precipitation. In southeastern Spain's Sierra Nevada National Park, common barberry occurs in the dense shrub layer beneath a (Pinus sylvestris var. nevadensis) canopy. In this area, summers are hot and dry, winters are cold and snowy, and the 15-year average annual rainfall is 32 inches (818 mm). Most rain comes in the fall and spring .
Elevation: Common barberry occurs from sea level up to 5,900 feet (1,800 m) in North America .
Soils: Although common barberry occurs on soils derived from a variety of parent materials with a variety of textures, pH levels, and moistures, it is often widespread or particularly prolific on limestone soils or other alkaline and/or calcareous soils. A review reports that common barberry often grows in acidic sandy clay loams but also grows in neutral or alkaline clays and nutrient poor soils . In Pennsylvania in 1921, common barberry occurred on soils from a variety of parent materials, including sandstone, shale, limestone, igneous rock, and glacial till . When eradication sites in Minnesota were surveyed for common barberry in early 2000, shrubs were most common in alkaline sandy loams in the southeast part of the state . In many areas, common barberry is especially common or restricted to limestone and/or calcareous soils. These areas include Iowa (review by ), western and southern Ontario [52,79], New England , and Sierra de Cazorla, southeastern Spain .
Common barberry typically grows best on dry to moist soils (review by ). In an upland oak savanna in southern Michigan, common barberry was reported on slightly acidic soils with low water-holding capacity and low soil moisture . During a 1951 survey in southwestern Ontario, common barberry was absent from flat, swampy lands, and when it occurred along streams, it often occupied well drained, steep-sloping banks .
Key Plant Community Associations
Common barberry habitats in the United States are described before, during, and after eradication
efforts; however, timing of habitat occupation is generally unimportant to possible future establishment
and spread. Plant communities invaded by common barberry include grasslands, savannas, thickets, and
dense woodlands or forests. These habitats are described for the Great Lakes area and northeastern United
States where common barberry is persistent. Additional information on the importance of birds in common
barberry's distribution is presented in Seed dispersal.
In the north-central United States, common barberry often invades prairies and savannas .
When eradication sites were revisited in Minnesota, most common barberry populations occurred in sparsely
to densely wooded areas . In Wisconsin, common barberry was typical in disturbed hardwood stands .
In southern Michigan, it was reported in upland oak (Quercus spp.) savannas .
In Pennsylvania, populations occurred in stream bank thickets, along roadsides, in open pastures, and
on "half-wooded hillsides" . Although most common in open-canopy forests in New England,
common barberry is also reported in abandoned fields, coastal grasslands, early-seral forests, forest
edges, floodplain forests, disturbed sites, pastures, roadsides, and shrubby wetlands .
In Connecticut's sand plains, common barberry occurred in the dense understory of black oak
(Q. velutina) woodlands . It was described within black locust (Robinia
pseudoacacia) clones in inland pitch pine-scrub oak (Pinus rigida-Q. ilicifolia)
barrens of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in New York . In Maine, common barberry occurred in
red spruce-balsam fir (Picea rubens-Abies balsamea) forests .
larva of Arge berberidis grazes on live leaf of Berberis vulgaris
In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / saprobe
Camarosporium coelomycetous anamorph of Camarosporium berberidis is saprobic on dead wood of Berberis vulgaris
Foodplant / saprobe
clustered, in cracks in bark pseudothecium of Cucurbitaria berberidis is saprobic on dead branch of Berberis vulgaris
Remarks: season: 11-4
Foodplant / gall
larva of Dasineura berberidis causes gall of leaf of Berberis vulgaris
Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, in groups of 8-16 perithecium of Diaporthe detrusa is saprobic on dead twig of Berberis vulgaris
Remarks: season: 4-5
Foodplant / parasite
cleistothecium of Erysiphe berberidis parasitises live twig of Berberis vulgaris
Foodplant / spot causer
scattered, epiphyllous pycnidium of Phyllosticta coelomycetous anamorph of Phyllosticta berberidis causes spots on live leaf of Berberis vulgaris
Remarks: season: 4
Foodplant / gall
pycnium of Puccinia brachypodii var. arrhenatheri causes gall of Berberis vulgaris
Other: unusual host/prey
Foodplant / gall
aecium of Puccinia brachypodii var. poae-nemoralis causes gall of live, galled twig of Berberis vulgaris
Other: sole host/prey
Foodplant / parasite
pycnium of Puccinia graminis parasitises live Berberis vulgaris
Foodplant / spot causer
pycnium of Puccinia striiformis var. striiformis causes spots on live leaf of Berberis vulgaris
Remarks: captive: in captivity, culture, or experimentally induced
Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Rhagoletis meigenii feeds within fruit of Berberis vulgaris
Other: sole host/prey
Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, aggregated pycnidium of Septoria coelomycetous anamorph of Septoria berberidis causes spots on live leaf of Berberis vulgaris
Remarks: season: 4,8
Fire Management Considerations
Potential for postfire establishment and spread: On sites where common barberry is established, sprouting and regeneration should be expected after fire. Burned sites without established common barberry plants should be monitored for seedlings as vegetation recovers. The potential for long-distance seed dispersal suggests that recovering burned areas should be monitored for establishment even if adjacent areas are free of common barberry.
Preventing postfire establishment and spread: Preventing common barberry from establishing in weed-free burned areas is the most effective and least costly management method. This may be accomplished through early detection and eradication, careful monitoring and follow-up, and limiting dispersal of invasive plant seed into burned areas. General recommendations for preventing postfire establishment and spread of invasive plants include:
- Incorporate cost of weed prevention and management into fire rehabilitation plans
- Acquire restoration funding
- Include weed prevention education in fire training
- Minimize soil disturbance and vegetation removal during fire suppression and rehabilitation activities
- Minimize the use of retardants that may alter soil nutrient availability, such as those containing nitrogen and phosphorus
- Avoid areas dominated by high priority invasive plants when locating firelines, monitoring camps, staging areas, and helibases
- Clean equipment and vehicles prior to entering burned areas
- Regulate or prevent human and livestock entry into burned areas until desirable site vegetation has recovered sufficiently to resist invasion by undesirable vegetation
- Monitor burned areas and areas of significant disturbance or traffic from management activity
- Detect weeds early and eradicate before vegetative spread and/or seed dispersal
- Eradicate small patches and contain or control large infestations within or adjacent to the burned area
- Reestablish vegetation on bare ground as soon as possible
- Avoid use of fertilizers in postfire rehabilitation and restoration
- Use only certified weed-free seed mixes when revegetation is necessary
Use of prescribed fire as a control agent: Fire alone is unlikely to control common barberry. Repeated pile burning on top of common barberry root crowns rarely killed established shrubs (see Plant response to fire). However, fire was recommended to kill plants and plant parts that were dug from the ground. Fire was considered effective in killing exposed rhizomes and seeds on stems . Because seeds on cut stems are capable of producing seedlings, reestablishment may be limited by burning cut stems (Atwood 1930 cited in ).
Fuels and Fire Regimes
Combustion characteristics of common barberry leaves and twigs were not different from the overall average of other woody native and nonnative species tested. Combustion was evaluated using a cone calorimeter. The average effective heat of combustion for common barberry was 14.02 MJ/kg, slightly greater than the average for all 42 eastern woody native and nonnative species tested (13.4 MJ/kg). Total heat release for common barberry was 13.11 MJ/kg, while the average for all species tested was 11.5 MJ/kg .
Common barberry is possible in a variety of habitats (see Habitat Types and Plant Communities and Site Characteristics). Altered fire frequency, severity, or behavior in habitats invaded by common barberry was not described in the available literature (2009). See the Fire Regime Table for information on FIRE REGIMES in plant communities where common barberry may occur.
More info for the terms: alvar, density, relative density
As of 2009, few successional studies in common barberry-invaded habitats were available. Common barberry's tolerance of full sun  and full shade  and persistence in wooded areas  suggests early- to late-seral communities are potential common barberry habitat. Though reported in full sun and full shade conditions in western Ontario, common barberry was more common in partially cleared than deeply shaded, dense woodlands or forests . In Pennsylvania, common barberry was considered rare in closed-canopy forests or woodlands .
Old field succession: On old fields in Stratfford County, New Hampshire, common barberry importance was greatest in mid- to late-seral communities. Researchers reported the importance (average relative density and relative basal area) of common barberry along a successional chronosequence from recently abandoned fields to mature forests. Common barberry importance was greatest in white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) forests dominating fields abandoned an average of 81 and 134 years previously, respectively. Importance was lowest in common juniper-Allegheny blackberry-sweetfern (Juniperus communis-Rubus allegheniensis-Comptonia peregrina) communities in fields abandoned 14 to 22 years earlier. Importance was intermediate in oak-virburnum (Viburnum spp.) communities in fields abandoned 45 to 196 years earlier. In habitats with common barberry, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) averaged 4.3% at a height of 16 inches (40 cm). The range of PAR in common barberry habitats was 0.3% to 52.1% .
Grazing: In southeastern Sweden, common barberry appeared to grow best in more densely wooded areas. Without grazing and periodic firewood collection in dry alvar grasslands on Oland Island, grasslands succeed to closed-canopy common juniper woodlands in 100 years. In this area, common barberry was absent from grassland sites grazed by cattle, on sites ungrazed for 20 years, and on sites ungrazed for 55 years. Common barberry occurred only on a site ungrazed for 80 years. Common barberry seedlings did not emerge from soil samples collected at any site .
Rhizome growth and sprouting are important to common barberry size increases and vegetative regeneration. Vegetative spread through rhizome growth can produce large-sized shrubs and thick clumps of shoots. Clumps of stems up to 16 feet (5 m) in diameter are possible through rhizomatous growth. Stem sprouts are possible from small rhizome fragments, and severing the rhizome between a parent plant and a new sprout rarely damages either the parent or the sprout . Vegetative spread by layering was reported for common barberry in New England . Individual stems may live up to 30 years .
Seedling establishment and plant growth
Seedling establishment and plant growth: Common barberry seedling establishment is often best in shady conditions. Disturbed sites may promote seedling establishment, while flooding, desiccation, frost heaving, and predation may reduce establishment. In general, common barberry seedlings are considered "vigorous" . Observations made during eradication efforts suggested that alkaline soils beneath tree canopies provided for high rates of seedling growth and survival (review by ).
Experiments conducted during the initiation of eradication programs suggested that common barberry seedling survival was best in shaded conditions (review by ), although another study suggested that deep shade could inhibit establishment . In Pennsylvania, seedlings were often found near mature plants. Although site characteristics were variable, germination and seedling establishment were successful in the area . In studies in Germany, common barberry seedlings were not considered especially shade tolerant. In the upper Rhine Valley, seedling establishment and survival were monitored in a field where shrubs were beginning to shade out grassland species. In one year, 4 of 6 monitored common barberry seedlings survived. In the next year, 3 of 3 monitored seedlings survived. Common barberry seedling numbers were low due to scarce seed rain. Researchers did not speculate on the reasons for low seed production. Based on laboratory studies that measured dark respiration rates, light compensation points, and photosynthetic capacity values, researchers suggested that common barberry seedlings had high light demands and were not "particularly adapted to establish in a strongly-shaded environment" .
Disturbances may favor common barberry establishment, but seedlings are sensitive to flooding, desiccation, frost heaving, heavy litter, and predation. Although an eradication target for years in Wisconsin, common barberry remained present in "fair numbers". Curtis  suggested that common barberry persisted because disturbances associated with eradication were well suited to seedling establishment. In a greenhouse study, continuous and temporary flooding reduced common barberry seedling growth. Flooded seedlings produced much lower dry weights than unflooded seedlings, but seedlings did survive 12 weeks of flooding . Field studies in southern Iowa revealed high mortality in seedlings less than 1 year old. Seedling death was often due to dessication, but winter frost-heaving also contributed. Seedling survival was also low on sites with heavy litter. When 1-year-old greenhouse grown seedlings were planted in field plots in Iowa, predation by rabbits was severe .
Common barberry seeds germinate best when shallowly buried in shaded areas where alternating temperatures exceed 50 °F (10 °C). In general, common barberry is described as germinating "readily" and producing "vigorous" seedlings . Germination of seeds contained in intact fruits may be delayed compared to seeds without fleshy fruits. In field plots in southern Iowa, bare seeds generally germinated in the 1st year, while seeds in fruits germinated in the 2nd year. Germination occurred throughout the growing season .
Light: Germination of common barberry seeds is generally inhibited in full sun (Shepherd 1944 cited in ). Experiments designed to aid in the eradication of common barberry suggested that common barberry germination and seedling survival were best in shaded conditions (review by ).
Soils, burial: High levels of common barberry germination were reported in loose and recently cultivated soils (review by ). Another study reported that common barberry germination was best for seeds buried in 0.6 inch (1.5 cm) of soil. No seeds germinated from depths of 3 inches (8 cm) or more (Kempton 1922 cited in ).
Temperature: Field and laboratory experiments suggest that common barberry seed germination is best with alternating temperatures [66,72]. Generally germination fails at constant temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, 41 °F (5 °C) or lower [22,66], and is promoted with cold stratification .
In the field, common barberry seeds germinated best when soil temperatures were 50 °F (10 °C) for 18 hours and 72 °F (22 °C) for 6 hours (review by ). In the laboratory, alternating temperatures produced higher germination rates than constant temperatures. Common barberry germination failed at constant temperatures of 41 °F (5 °C) or 90 °F (32 °C). Germination ranged from 72% to 88% at alternating moderate (41-50 °F (5-10 °C)) and high (59-72 °F (15-22 °C)) temperatures. Germination was 4% at alternating temperatures of 72 and 100 °F (22 and 38 °C) and was 12% at temperatures of 32 and 72 °F (0 and 22 °C) . In a greenhouse study, seeds collected from plants growing in natural areas of Iowa germinated better than those collected from cultivated plants. Germination was best (62%) at temperatures of 68 to 86 °F (20-30 °C). Germination was low (14-19%) at constant temperatures of 50 °F (10 °C) and failed at 95 °F (35 °C) .
Birds [36,37,70,79] and cattle are the most commonly discussed common barberry seed dispersers. However, small mammals such as field mice and other small rodents may also disperse seeds by caching common barberry fruits [62,63]. Seed dispersal in water is also likely, given the importance of river corridors in common barberry's distribution [52,67]. Seed movement by wind and in mud caught in shoes, hooves, or equipment is also possible. The use of fruiting common barberry branches in decorations could also result in seed dispersal .
Common barberry fruits are persistent and typically available to birds or browsers through winter and spring [49,77]. Birds generally scatter seeds over an extensive area, while cattle typically deposit numerous seeds over a limited area .
Birds: Many bird species eat common barberry fruits, including ruffed grouse, northern bobwhites, ring-necked pheasants, mockingbirds (review by ), cedar waxwings (Kelly cited in ), robins, catbirds, and blackbirds . According to Thompson and Robbins , birds generally feed on common barberry fruits in winter or early spring when other foods are unavailable. Of 15 bird species reported to feed on berries, small birds often passed seeds whole through the digestive tract, and others removed the fruits and left intact seeds at the feeding site (review by ). Whole seeds were recovered from robin and waxwing feces, but blackbirds typically cracked seeds . In May and June in Ithaca, New York, the frequency of barberry seeds in robin feces was 81.5%. Many feces collections came from sidewalks bordering barberry hedges . Studies in Minnesota revealed that common barberry seeds were still viable after traveling through bird digestive tracts. Seeds were carried several kilometers by local birds, but dispersal distances by migratory birds may be much greater (Flake 1945 cited in ). Some have reported that barberry seeds that have passed through the digestive tracts of birds have a "hastened" period of germination (Kerner and Oliver cited in ).
Studies in Europe also highlight the importance of birds in common barberry dispersal. In Kaiserstahl, southwestern Germany, birds were the primary dispersers of fleshy-fruited plant species including common barberry. Seeds were collected from bird droppings and regurgitations. Most seeds were dropped in successionally mature vegetation dominated by sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and durmast oak (Quercus petraea), about half as many were dropped in vegetation dominated by shrubs and vines, and the fewest were dropped in pioneer vegetation. Findings suggested that birds preferred the structural diversity of scrub and woodland vegetation over grasslands, likely because of an abundance of perches . In southeastern Spain, common barberry fruits were consumed and dispersed by thrushes (Turdus spp.). An average of 51.5% of common barberry fruits was consumed by birds. The number of seeds dispersed by thrushes was positively correlated with crop size (P<0.05). Fruit removal was greatest from plants that produced the largest fruits . Information on Seed production from this study is available.
Cattle: Several observations indicate that cattle disperse common barberry seed. Cattle have been observed browsing ripe common barberry fruits, and seedlings grew from manure . Surveys conducted during eradication efforts suggested that cattle were spreading common barberry throughout grazing allotments . Numerous common barberry seedlings were observed in dung patties in pastures in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. In a single patty, there were 45 common barberry seedlings. Shady areas used heavily by resting cattle were covered with young common barberry shrubs. Beneath a single large tree, there were 145 common barberry shrubs .
Abundant fruit and seed crops are produced by common barberry nearly every year, but predation is common. Common barberry typically begins producing fruit at 4 to 7 years old, but fruit production has been observed on 1-year-old shrubs (Shepherd 1944 cited in ). A review reports that common barberry produces "good" fruit crops nearly every year . On Spain's Iberian Peninsula, common barberry produced an estimated 1,000 to 2,500 fruits/plant [36,37]. During field studies conducted in southeastern Spain, 75.5% of common barberry flowers produced fruit, 70.6% of fruits ripened, and the average number of seeds/fruit was 1.66. Plants averaged 1,605 fruits, but production ranged from 100 to 5,000 fruits/plant .
Predation: Insects, birds, and small mammals can reduce common barberry seed production through predation. In southeastern Spain, tephritid fruit fly larvae affected an average of 41.6% of common barberry fruits. Predation ranged from 14.6% to 98.7% and was greatest on early-fruiting plants. Early-fruiting plants typically produced fewer seeds/fruit than late-fruiting plants. The researcher cautioned that predation was monitored for only 1 year and can vary dramatically between years and locations . In Sierra Nevada National Park, southeastern Spain, 30.1% of common barberry seeds presented to predators were taken. Primary seed predators in the area were rodents. When compared with other seeds, common barberry was only moderately preferred . When 1,875 dried common barberry fruits were fed to captive ring-necked pheasants, just 10 seeds were recovered intact. Ring-necked pheasants have powerful gizzards , but many smaller bird species pass whole common barberry seeds and are important to Seed dispersal. For more on animal use of common barberry, see IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE.
Pollination and breeding system
Pollination and breeding system: Common barberry flowers are perfect  and primarily insect pollinated . Nectaries occur at the base of flower petals, and bees, wasps, ants, flies, and beetles are common pollinators (review by ). Although cross pollination by insects is most common, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, 3 of 30 inflorescences produced fruits when protected from insects .
Common barberry reproduces by seed and from rhizomes that are detached from the parent plant. Rhizome spread and sprouting are important to common barberry growth and persistence (see Vegetative regeneration).
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte
Raunkiaer  life form:
Fire Regime Table
Life History and Behavior
In North America and western Europe, common barberry flowers are common in May or June and fruits are generally ripe by August or September [27,64,69,77,79,84]. Seeds may mature by October . In the fall, common barberry leaves turn a red, orange, or purple color [17,49]. Berries are persistent and remain on stems through winter [26,49,86].
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Berberis vulgaris
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Impacts and Control
Impacts: The most widespread and commonly described impact of common barberry's invasion is its ability to act as an alternate host for cereal stem rusts. As an alternate host, common barberry can support the development of new genotypes able to attack rust-resistant crops (Leonard 2001 cited in ). The wheat rust (Puccinia graminis) can severely reduce the yield of wheat, oat, and barley crops . Once common barberry was removed from oat production areas of Pennsylvania and wheat production areas of Virginia, crop yields increased by an average of 123% and 68%, respectively . For more on stem rust and common barberry eradication, see Eradication efforts and effects on local distributions.
Discussions and studies on the impacts of common barberry populations in natural areas were generally lacking as of 2009. The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group reports that common barberry has a high potential for spread , and Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources suggests that common barberry could displace native vegetation on a localized or widespread scale . See the following sections for additional information on common barberry's potential for spread: Seed dispersal, Seedling establishment, and Vegetative regeneration.
Studies conducted in Ontario indicate that common barberry is often spread along fence rows, throughout pastures, and along river corridors. During a 1951 survey of southwestern Ontario, large and spreading common barberry populations were reported in Elgin, Grey, Kent, Waterloo, and Wellington counties. In Waterloo and Wellington counties, thousands of common barberry shrubs occurred along the Grand and Eramosa rivers, respectively. Along the Grand River, populations were scattered along a 30-mile stretch. In Grey County, populations were spreading "rapidly" in "rough pasture land". In these pastures, common barberry stands covered several hundred acres . During a 1952 survey in eastern Ontario, large common barberry populations occurred in Grenville, Lanark, Leeds, and Prescott counties. Common barberry populations were most common in pastures, along fence rows, along the St Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, and in open woodlands . Dispersal of common barberry seeds by birds and cattle is likely important to the distribution of shrubs in pastures, along fence lines, and in open woods and riparian areas (see Seed dispersal).
Control: With widespread eradication efforts targeting common barberry, well established and successful control methods may be expected. However, many of the early methods used to reduce common barberry populations were time consuming, labor intensive (see Physical or mechanical control), and/or involved chemical experimentation. Most early eradication methods are not feasible or legal today.
In all cases where invasive species are targeted for control, no matter what method is employed, the potential for other invasive species to fill their void must be considered . Control of biotic invasions is most effective when it employs a long-term, ecosystem-wide strategy rather than a tactical approach focused on battling individual invaders .
Fire: For information on the use of prescribed fire to control this species, see Fire Management Considerations.
Prevention: It is commonly argued that the most cost-efficient and effective method of managing invasive species is to prevent their establishment and spread by maintaining "healthy" natural communities [58,78] (e.g., avoid road building in wildlands ) and by monitoring several times each year . Managing to maintain the integrity of the native plant community and mitigate the factors enhancing ecosystem invasibility is likely to be more effective than managing solely to control the invader .
Weed prevention and control can be incorporated into many types of management plans, including those for logging and site preparation, grazing allotments, recreation management, research projects, road building and maintenance, and fire management . See the Guide to noxious weed prevention practices  for specific guidelines in preventing the spread of weed seeds and propagules under different management conditions.
Physical or mechanical control: Digging and hand-grubbing were used extensively in early eradication efforts. Effective control using these methods required complete root and rhizome removal. If root and rhizome removal was not done carefully and meticulously, sprouts were "almost sure to develop". Roots or rhizomes 1 foot (0.3 m) or more below ground rarely sprouted, but those near the surface sprouted "readily" . Because sprouting was often abundant in areas where barberry was cut, pulled, or dug, eradication officials poured salt in and around the treated areas, which minimized sprouting, but high levels of seedling production often occurred in treated sites (review by ).
Biological control: Currently (2009) there have been no insects or pathogens released to control common barberry. Control by mammalian herbivores (especially cattle) is unlikely, since common barberry seed is dispersed in feces (see Seed dispersal).
Biological control of invasive species has a long history that indicates many factors must be considered before using biological controls. Refer to these sources: [93,98] and the Weed control methods handbook  for background information and important considerations for developing and implementing biological control programs.
Chemical control: Herbicides are effective in gaining initial control of a new invasion or a severe infestation, but they are rarely a complete or long-term solution to weed management . See the Weed control methods handbook  for considerations on the use of herbicides in natural areas and detailed information on specific chemicals.
In eastern Ontario and western Quebec, a common barberry eradication program using primarily herbicides was initiated in 1964. After 20 years, common barberry was not eradicated. Eradication occurred at only a few sites where shrubs were scarce initially and herbicide treatments were repeated for several years. There have been few herbicide treatments since 1980, and populations have increased "considerably" . In earlier eradication programs, researchers suggested that chemicals applied to the base of the plant where fine, fibrous roots were concentrated would be most effective . However, the effectiveness of this practice in the field was not reported.
Integrated management: Although using a combination of control methods often produces better results, integrated management in common barberry populations was rarely described in the available literature (2009) (see Use of prescribed fire as a control agent).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
Common barberry fruits have been used in jams and jellies , and leaves, stems, and rhizomes have numerous medicinal uses. The Shinnecock tribe of Long Island boiled common barberry leaves into a tea to treat jaundice . A review lists many other medicinal uses: preventing plague, reducing high blood pressure, relieving inflammation, reducing fevers, improving appetites, soothing upset stomachs, and the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, malaria, ulcers, heart burn, and liver and gallbladder ailments. Today common barberry is used to treat throat, urinary tract, gastrointestinal, lung, and yeast infections. For more about the potential medicinal uses and precautions with use of common barberry, see the complete review by Arayne and others .
Research shows that common barberry roots, stems, and leaves have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Roots are rich in alkaloids including berberine and berbamine (review presented in ). Twenty-two alkaloids with medicinal properties have been identified in common barberry roots, leaves, and fruits (review by ).
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Birds: More than 12 species of birds feed on common barberry fruits in the United States. Birds consumed most fruits in winter or early spring when other foods were unavailable . Common barberry has been recovered from the stomachs of 6 bird species, which included ruffed grouse and northern bobwhites (review by ). Ring-necked pheasants, mockingbirds (review by ), and cedar waxwings utilized common barberry fruits . Common barberry seeds were recovered from the stomachs of American robins . In May and June in Ithaca, New York, the frequency of barberry in robin feces was 81.5% . In southeastern Spain, observations and fecal analyses revealed that common barberry fruits were consumed and seeds were dispersed primarily by thrushes. They fed on ripe fruits until October and consumed an average of 51.5% of common barberry fruits . Information on seed predation and dispersal by birds was presented in earlier sections.
Small mammals: Common barberry seed predation by small mammals is likely less common than seedling and bark browsing. In Iowa, browsing of common barberry by rabbits was severe after 1-year-old greenhouse-grown seedlings were planted into field plots . Observations made near Syracuse, New York, revealed that rabbits fed extensively on common barberry bark in the winter . Winter feeding by cottontail rabbits in western Massachusetts resulted in moderate common barberry injury . Field studies in southwestern Germany and southern England revealed that mice often quit eating common barberry seeds presented without fruits after the seed coat was removed. Researchers suggested that toxins in the seeds were likely the reason for avoidance by mice . Researchers did not speculate on possible outcomes if fleshy fruits had been presented.
Livestock: According to Rhind (1857 cited in ) cattle, sheep, and goats browse common barberry. Cattle browse common barberry and disperse viable seeds [44,86]. For more information, see Seed dispersal.
Palatability and/or nutritional value: Nutritional value of common barberry fruits is reported from Sweden  and Spain . In the Tullgarn area of Sweden, common barberry fruits were 76% water . On Spain's Iberian Peninsula, the average dry weight of common barberry fruit pulp was 25.6 mg .
Cover value: Although common barberry's use as cover was not addressed in the available literature (2009), its arching form may be useful for various ground-nesting birds and small mammals.
Berberis vulgaris L., also known as European barberry or simply Barberry, is a shrub in the genus Berberis. It produces edible but sharply acidic berries, which people in many countries eat as a tart and refreshing fruit.
The shrub native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia; it is also naturalised in northern Europe, including the British Isles and Scandinavia, and North America. In the United States and Canada, it has become established in the wild over an area from Nova Scotia to Nebraska, with additional populations in Colorado, Idaho, Washington State, Montana, and British Columbia. Although not naturalised, in rural New Zealand it has been widely cultivated as a hedge on farms. It is cultivated for its fruits in many countries.
It is a deciduous shrub growing up to 4 m high. The leaves are small oval, 2–5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin; they are borne in clusters of 2-5 together, subtended by a three-branched spine 3–8 mm long. The flowers are yellow, 4–6 mm across, produced on 3–6 cm long panicles in late spring. The fruit is an oblong red berry 7–10 mm long and 3–5 mm broad, ripening in late summer or autumn; they are edible but very sour, and rich in Vitamin C.
The berries are edible and rich in vitamin C, though with a very sharp flavor; the thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult, so in most places, they are not widely consumed. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
A widely available Russian candy called Барбарис (Barberis) is made using extract from the berries, which are pictured on the wrapper.
In Europe, the berries have been traditionally used as an ingredient in making jam. The berries are high in pectin which makes the jam congeal as it cools after having been boiled. In southwestern Asia, especially Iran, the berries are used for cooking, as well as for jam-making. In Iran, barberries are commonly used as a currant in rice pilaf.
Zereshk (زرشک) or sereshk is the Persian name for the dried fruit of Berberis spp., specially that of Berberis integerrima 'Bidaneh', which is widely cultivated in Iran. Iran is the largest producer of zereshk and saffron in the world. Zereshk and saffron are produced on the same land and the harvest is at the same time.
The South Khorasan province in Iran is the main area of zereshk and saffron production in the world, especially around Birjand and Qaen. About 85% of production is in Qaen and about 15% in Birjand. There is evidence of cultivation of seedless barberry in South Khorasan two hundred years ago.
A garden of zereshk is called zereshk-estan.
Zereshk is widely used in cooking, imparting a tart flavor to chicken dishes. It is usually cooked with rice, called zereshk polo, and provides a nice meal with chicken. Zereshk jam, zereshk juice, and zereshk fruit rolls are also produced in Iran.
It has been widely cultivated for hedges in New Zealand.
Berberis vulgaris (European barberry) is the alternate host species of the wheat rust fungus (Puccinia graminis), a grass-infecting rust fungus that is a serious fungal disease of wheat and related grains. For this reason, cultivation of B. vulgaris is prohibited in Canada and many areas of the United States (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire), and imports to the United States are forbidden.
Berberis vulgaris fruits have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea, jelly or syrup for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever, infections, cold, and flu.
- Calafate (a related shrub with similar berries, native in temperate South America)
- 1885 illustration from Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany
- The Plant List
- Altervista Flora Italiana, Crespino comune, Sowberry, Common Barberry, vinettier, espino cambrón, Sauerdorn, Berberis vulgaris L. includes photos, drawings, and European distribution map
- Flora of North America vol 3
- Alemardan, Ali; Asadi, Wahab; Rezaei, Mehdi; Tabrizi, Leila; Mohammadi, Siavash (2013). "Cultivation of Iranian seedless barberry (Berberis integerrima 'Bidaneh'): A medicinal shrub". Industrial Crops and Products 50: 276–87. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2013.07.061.
- Tehranifar, A. (2003). "Barberry Growing in Iran". In Lee, J-M.; Zhang, D. XXVI International Horticultural Congress: Asian Plants with Unique Horticultural Potential: Genetic Resources, Cultural Practices, and Utilization. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 620. pp. 193–5. ISBN 978-90-66054-00-4.
- Vogl, Sylvia; Picker, Paolo; Mihaly-Bison, Judit; Fakhrudin, Nanang; Atanasov, Atanas G.; Heiss, Elke H.; Wawrosch, Christoph; Reznicek, Gottfried; Dirsch, Verena M.; Saukel, Johannes; Kopp, Brigitte (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
- Popay, Ian; Champion, Paul; James, Trevor, eds. (2010). "Berberis glaucocarpa barberry". An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand (3rd ed.). Christchurch: New Zealand Plant Protection Society. ISBN 978-0-473-16285-6.[page needed]
|This section contains a gallery of images.|
- Flora Europaea: Berberis vulgaris distribution
- Berberis vulgaris at NRCS
- Berberis vulgaris at abchomeopathy
- Berberis integerrima 'Bidaneh'
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Berberis vulgaris.|
Names and Taxonomy
L. (Berberidaceae) [27,42].
Hybrid: Berberis × ottawaensis (Schneid.), a cross between common barberry and Japanese barberry (B. thunbergerii),
occurs in Europe and North America [24,60,67].
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