Barberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) also known as megi in Japanese. A thorny shrub with yellow flowers. Some barberries are evergreen while some are deciduous. Native to Japan and eastern Asia, it is a dense, deciduous shrub which grows 1-2 (3) m high. It has deeply grooved, brown, spiny branches with a single (occasionally tridentine) spine (actually a highly modified leaf) at each shoot node. The leaves are green to blue-green, very small, spatula to oval shaped, produced in clusters of 2-6 on a dwarf shoot in the axil of each spine. The fruit is a glossy bright red to orange-red, ovoid berry 7-10 mm long and 4-7 mm broad, containing a single seed. They mature during late summer and fall and persist through the winter.
Cultivation and uses
It is widely grown as an ornamental plant, both in Japan and elsewhere in the temperate Northern Hemisphere. It can tolerate a wide range of conditions which allows it to live in diverse habitats as close canopy forest, open woodlands, wetlands, fields and road sides.
It is one of the first shrub to leaf out in spring. The plant is hermaphrodite having both male and female sexes and is pollinated by insects. It has narrow, oval leaves which are half to two inches long and its color ranges from green to bluish green to dark reddish purple. The yellow flower in spring are not very showy, as these are small and born under the foliage.