Barberry, a family of low, prickly, ornamental shrubs. There are about 450 species, which are native to temperate climates. The barberry grows to a height of 10 feet (3 m). It is grown as an ornamental for its clusters of yellow flowers and red berries. The leaves are wedge-shaped and, in some species, toothed. The roots and inner bark are yellow and are used to make a dye and in tanning.
The American barberry has toothed leaves. Its berries can be used to make preserves. It is an alternate host to black stem rust, a wheat disease. The Japanese barberry and the Korean barberry, both of which can be grown in the United States, do not harbor the disease. The leaves of the Japanese barberry are smooth, those of the Korean barberry, toothed.
Barberries belong to the family Berberidaceae. The American barberry is Berberis canadensis; the Japanese, B. thunbergii; the Korean, B. koreana.