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Korean barberry

Showy yellow flower clusters, reddish-purple fall color, and persistent egg-shaped red berries make Korean boxwood an attractive year-round shrub. May be difficult to locate in nursery trade. Barberry are also on some state lists as invasive.

Botanical name:

Berberis koreana

All Common Names:

Korean barberry

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Specimen,
  • Massing,
  • Hedge,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

Mature Height:

4 to 6 feet high

Mature Width:

4-6 feet wide

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Dry soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Sandy soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Occasional flooding,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil,
  • Road salt

Acid Soils:

  • Moderately Tolerant

Alkaline Soils:

  • Tolerant

Salt Spray:

  • Tolerant

Soil Salt:

  • Tolerant

Drought Conditions:

  • Tolerant

Poor Drainage:

  • Intolerant

Planting Considerations:

  • Excessive sucker growth

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid spring,
  • Late spring,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Yellow

Shape or Form:

  • Oval,
  • Round,
  • Thicket-forming,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

A multi-stemmed upright shrub reaching 4 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.
Best in full sun for flowering potential, but tolerant of shade. Adaptable to all soil types except wet soil.
Prune any time.

Disease, pests, and problems

Very few disease or insect problems
Barberis can  provide beauty to gardens and landscapes, but have become highly invasive in parts of the U.S.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of salt and deer

Native geographic location and habitat


Bark color and texture 

Thin, reddish-brown stem with short, stiff spines. Shems are slightly flattened with ridges.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, simple, small elliptical leaves with elonggated petioles. Medium to dark green turn a reddish orange in the fall, holding late into the season.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Showy, 3 to 4 inch long drooping racemes made up of tiny 1/4 inch  yellow flowers 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Bright red, egg-shaped berry persistent into winter.
Birds are attractive to the fruit and as they eat the fruit, seeds are dispersed into native areas.


Location of Berberis koreana (Korean barberry) at the Arboretum