Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Bagatelle'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 5 Professionals
Common Name: Japanese barberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Berberidaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but needs full sun to produce best foliage color. Very adaptable shrub that is tolerant of many pollutants in urban areas. Also tolerates some drought, but will not do well in poorly drained, wet soils. This miniature cultivar does not need pruning.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Berberis thunbergii, commonly called Japanese barberry, is a spiny, broad-rounded, deciduous shrub with obovate green leaves. It typically matures to 5' tall and as wide. Leaves (variably sized to 1 1/4” long) typically turn attractive shades of orange, yellow and red in fall.

Specific epithet honors Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828) who reportedly identified this species in Japan in 1784.

Forma atropurpurea have red to purple-red foliage.

'Bagatelle' is a compact, deciduous selection which forms a 1.5 foot mound of variable-sized, coppery-red leaves. Many branched stems have sharp thorns. Somewhat slow growing. Tiny, yellowish flowers appear in late April to early May, but are often hidden by the foliage and are not considered showy. Bright red berries form in fall and often last through the winter. The berries are attractive to birds.


No serious problems. Some susceptibility to bacterial leaf spot, anthracnose, root rots, wilt, aphids, barberry webworm and scale.

Garden Uses

An excellent specimen shrub for a small space. Also effective in the rock garden or as an edging where the thorns will help create a low barrier.