Berberidaceae - barberry family
 

WeedsPoisonous PlantsHay Fever
Gerald A. Mulligan (Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, retired)
Berberis vulgaris L., common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
A tall shrub from 4 to 8 feet (12 to 24 dm.) high. Drooping clusters of small yellow flowers appear from May to early June and bright red clusters of berries by September. Berries typically remain on shrubs through the winter months. Leaves are on short shoots with 2- to 3-pronged spines at the base. Common barberry was first introduced from Europe to this Continent as an ornamental plant. It has become naturalized along fence lines, roadsides, and riverbanks, and in pastures and clearings. Spread is mainly by birds that have eaten the bright red berries. Since common barberry is the alternate host for the fungus stem rust of cereals (Puccinia graminis), a disease that causes serious damage to crops of wheat, oats, and barley, concerted efforts are being taken to try to eradicate it from our main grain-growing areas. Stem rust has a complex life cycle that involves alternate host plants; a sexual stage on common barberry and a number of asexual stages on wheat, oats, and barely. New races of stem rust capable of causing significant damage to existing cereal varieties often arise during the rust's sexual stage on common barberry. Since the formation of these new strains is a threat to existing varieties of many cereals, the importation, sale, and growth of common barberry is now prohibited in many jurisdictions.

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Weed Name Photo Weed Name Photo
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(F&M)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(plant in fruit, from Wikipedia)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(in flower)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(close up of fruit)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(herbarium specimen, in flower)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(herbarium specimen, in fruit)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(seedling)                                    
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(A, branch with flowers; B, flower; C, young berry; D, shoot with some 3-pronged spines; E, branch with mature berries) [from C. Frankton and G, A. Mulligan, Weeds of Canada, Publication 948, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 217 pp, 1987]
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(alternate aecial stage of the fungus disease, Puccinia graminis, stem rust of wheat, on a leaf of common barberry)
common barberry, Úpine-vinette commune
(plant parts, from Wikipedia)