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Berberis julianae Winterberry Barberry

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Wintergreen barberry is ideal for use as an almost impenetrable hedge or barrier planting, with its dense branching growth habit, spiny leaves up to three inches long, and the three-parted spines located along the stiff stems. Plants reach six to eight feet in height with a spread of three to four feet. One of the hardiest evergreen barberries, the leaves of wintergreen barberry may turn a lovely wine-red or purplish bronze in the winter and are joined by the persistent blue-black berries. Clusters of small, lemon-yellow blooms appear in late spring for a week or two and may occasionally have an unpleasant fragrance. Fairly erect but more rounded with age, wintergreen barberry also works well in mixed shrubbery borders or as a foundation planting. Group three together in a shrubbery border for a nice, contrasting textural effect. Barberry makes a good barrier or hedge plant since a person will attempt to walk through it only once.

Full Form - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
Figure 1. Full Form - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
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Full Form, Fall Color - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
Figure 2. Full Form, Fall Color - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
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Full Form, Manicured - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
Figure 3. Full Form, Manicured - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
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Leaf - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
Figure 4. Leaf - Berberis julianae: Winterberry Barberry
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General Information

Scientific name: Berberis julianae

Pronunciation: BUR-bur-issjool-ee-AN-ee

Common name(s): wintergreen barberry

Family: Berberidaceae

Plant type: shrub

USDA hardiness zones: 6 through 9A (Figure 5)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Origin: native to temperate Asia

Invasive potential: not considered a problem species at this time and may be recommended by UF/IFAS faculty (reassess in 10 years)

Uses: hedge; border; screen

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planating range.
Figure 5. Shaded area represents potential planating range.
Credit: undefined


Height: 4 to 6 feet

Spread: 2 to 5 feet

Plant habit: vase shape; round; upright

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: spiny

Leaf shape: lanceolate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: fragrant

Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: red

Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: white

Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: oval

Fruit length: less than 1/2 inch

Fruit cover: fleshy

Fruit color: red

Fruit characteristic: persists on the plant; attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; thorns present

Current year stem/twig color: yellow

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; slightly alkaline; loam

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Wintergreen barberry is fairly adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions but looks its best when grown on rich, somewhat moist soil in full sun or light shifting shade. Plants will require some pruning to maintain their best form. In time, the center of the plant becomes thick with dead and living stems massed together in a thicket. Remove the dead stems and thin the living stems to allow more light to reach the interior of the plant. Wear heavy gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when pruning barberry.

Cultivars include: 'Nana', three to four feet high, has very large spines and forms a solid mound of glossy dark green foliage which becomes wine-red in winter. Unfortunately, 'Nana' is difficult to find commercially. Berberis gagnepainii, black barberry, has flower and fruit similar to wintergreen barberry but is wider and has more pendulous branches.

Propagation is by semi-hardwood cuttings rooted under mist.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Publication #FPS65

Release Date:July 19, 2022

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: 3. Natural Resources and Environmental Quality
Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is FPS65, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised July 2022. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor; Ryan W. Klein; and Gail Hansen; Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman