Darwin's Barberry

(Berberis darwinii)

Darwin's barberry
Image: Darwin's barberry, © T Rudman.

What is Darwin's barberry?

  • Darwin's barberry is a weed of forest margins and plantation edges, as well as poorly managed grazing areas.
  • Darwin's barberry is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Darwin's barberry are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify Darwin's barberry

  • Darwin's barberry is a spiny, evergreen shrub growing to 4 m tall. The leaves are shiny dark-green and holly-like, 2-3 cm long and grow alternately in clusters of three to five, together with five-pronged, needle-sharp spines. The stems are covered with a rusty red down. Tissues and wood are typically yellow.
  • Darwin's barberry has attractive, nine petalled, deep orange flowers in drooping clusters up to 7 cm long, and dark purple berries 6-9 mm long with a bluish-white bloom. Darwin's barberry flowers in spring and fruit set occurs in summer. Darwin's barberry can live for at least 60 years.

Darwin's barberry in Tasmania

  • Darwin's barberry has been recorded from Scottsdale in the north, Fern Tree and Cockle Creek in the south, and Williamsford in the west. All populations are relatively small.
  • Darwin's barberry is a weed of marginal habitats including regenerating scrub, forest margins and plantation edges, as well as poorly managed grazing areas. Darwin's barberry can form thick impenetrable thickets that excludes other plants and form a barrier to stock, vehicles and people movement.

What is the legal status of Darwin's barberry in your area?

What you need to do

If you locate Darwin's barberry anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be Darwin's barberry, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.

Detailed management and control guidelines for Darwin's barberry can be found in the Darwin's Barberry Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Statutory Weed Management Plan for Darwin's barberry
Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

Darwin's Barberry Control Guide


  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken;
  • Use a combination of different control methods; and
  • Establish vigorous pasture (or native species) after removal to reduce re-infestation.


  • Don't introduce Darwin's barberry to Darwin's barberry-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't allow Darwin's barberry to flower and set seed before treatment;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential;
  • Don't rely on just one control method.

Spread of Darwin's barberry

  • Darwin's barberry spreads by birds consuming the ripe fruit and disseminating the seed.
  • Seed can also be spread via the ornamental plant trade and dumping of garden waste.
  • Seed is thought to be long-lived leading to a persistent seed bank in the soil.

Physical removal

  • Darwin's barberry plants can be cut down and the root system dug up by hand or mechanically.
  • However, plants can regenerate from suckers and follow-up control with herbicide is necessary to prevent re-establishment.

Chemical control

  • Several herbicides can be used for the control of Darwin's barberry in Tasmania in accordance with DPIPWE's off-label permit PER84775. See Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control for more information.

Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control

Herbicides for Darwin's Barberry Control

Important Disclaimer
To the extent permitted by law, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.