Berberis darwinii


Berberis: From the Arabic name berberys

Common Name(s)

Darwins barberry



Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Terrestrial. A lowland plant. Plant occurs in sites with low-moderate fertility. Plant found in low forest, scrub, forest margins and shrublands. Plant found in remnant forest stands, scrub, along forest and plantation margins, roadsides in Chile (Webb, Sykes and Garnock-Jones 1988). Plant found in forest margins, secon-growth bush, scrub, plantations and roadsides.


Spiny evergreen shrub up to about 4m tall. The leaves are a dark glossy green and are stiff up to 3.5 by 1.5 cm with 3-5 spiny points. Spines beneath each leaf are palmate with 5 points. Flowers are orange-yellow held in a raceme and the berries are dark purple to black with a bluish white waxy bloom.

Similar Taxa

Can be distinguished from other Berberis species in New Zealand by the 5-partite spines beneath the leaves.


July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February

Flower Colours




Year Naturalised



South Chile, Argentina

Reason for Introduction


Control Techniques

Disposal Method - replant bare sites to minimise seeding. Preferred Control - cut stem and apply vigilant as per the label. Can be done all year round. Alternative Control - stump swab: Escort label rates or Tordon Brush Killer, 10%.

Life Cycle and Dispersal

Perennial. Seeds germinate in September and the plant regenerates from root suckers, layers and crown. Can reproduce both sexually and asexually (Keller, 1983). Soil bank does not survive beyond the first season (Atkinson 1997). Seed is produced at approximately 15 000/m squared ground projection. Seeds are not viable after the first season and are dispersed by vertebrates; birds and possums.


The plant has a high tolerance of shade (McQueen 1993), drought and frost and is only slightly tolerant of poor drainage. After physical damage and grazing resprouting occurs from all parts.

This page last updated on 24 Mar 2015