Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Gentry' ROYAL BURGUNDY
Common Name: Japanese barberry 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Berberidaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Pale yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil, Dry Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates part shade, but performs best with full sun. This is a very adaptable shrub that is tolerant of urban conditions. Plants also tolerates heat and drought, but are generally intolerant of poorly-drained, wet soils. Plants spread slowly by creeping roots. Plants can also spread by self-seeding (birds will eat the fruits and distribute the seed). Plant branches may root where they touch the ground. This species is considered to be somewhat invasive in some areas (particularly in eastern North America).

ROYAL BURGUNDY is reportedly a sterile cultivar that will not self-seed.

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.

Forma atropurpurea have red to purple-red foliage.

Genus name comes from the Latinized form of the Arabian name for the fruit.

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

‘Gentry’, commonly sold under the trade name of ROYAL BURGUNDY, is a dense, compact, low-mounding shrub that typically grows to 24-30" tall and to 40" wide. It was discovered growing in a bed of Berberis 'Crimson Pygmy' plants at the Leo Gentry Wholesale Nursery in Gresham, Oregon in 1989. Leaves emerge rich burgundy in spring but mature to soft reddish-black. Tiny, bell-shaped, pale yellow flowers (to 1/2” long) bloom in March-April in short racemes along spiny, reddish purple stems. Three-parted spines at the leaf bases are distinctive for this cultivar. Glossy, ellipsoid, bright red berries mature in fall and persist into winter. The berries are attractive to birds. U.S. Plant Patent PP9,461 was issued on March 5, 1996.


No serious problems. Some susceptibility to bacterial leaf spot, anthracnose, root rots, wilt, aphids, barberry webworm and scale. Spiny stems often trap unsightly wind-blown trash.

This cultivar exhibits some resistance to sunburn and sun scald.


Japanese barberry forms an excellent barrier or hedge. It is also effective when planted in groups or as a specimen.

Accent for small areas in the landscape. Foundations. Border fronts.