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Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Sunsation’

Red-Leaf Japanese Barberry
Deciduous, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries


These dense, spiny-stemmed plants, especially the deciduous species, tolerate climate and soil extremes. Require no more than ordinary garden care. Each year, thin out oldest wood and prune as needed to shape—after bloom for evergreen and semievergreen types, late in the dormant season for deciduous kinds. They make attractive hedges. Informal style is best for species grown for spring flowers (yellow, unless otherwise noted) and ensuing berries, which are borne on previous year’s growth; species grown for foliage can be sheared. To rejuvenate overgrown or neglected plants, cut them to within a foot of the ground before new spring growth begins.

Closely related to and sometimes grouped by botanists with Mahonia.

Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea

This group contains plants with leaves in the red to purple-red range. All develop most intense color in sun.


Compact, upright to 3–4 ft. tall and wide. New growth is greenish gold, maturing to bright golden yellow.

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Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’

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Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Helmond Pillar’

Columnar form grows to 6 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide, with reddish purple foliage. Sets few or no seeds.

Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Royal Cloak’

Compact, mounding to 4 ft. high and at least as wide. Large, dark purple-red leaves.

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