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Darwin's Barberry

South America

General description

Evergreen shrub < 5 m tall. Stems are tough, woody, densely hairy, and bear five-pronged needle-sharp spines. Leaves are < 30 x 15 cm, hairless, glossy, dark green and spiny-edged. Flowers are golden/yellow and hang in clusters July – February. Berries are oval and purple/black.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Darwin’s barberry. As Darwin’s barberry is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Darwin's barberry within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Darwin's barberry on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Disturbed forest, scrubland, wasteland.

Seeds dispersed by birds, soil movement, water and possibly possums. Vegetative spread from root suckering.

Outcompetes native plants in disturbed forest and scrubland, altering the understorey. May impact the horticultural industry as a host of various plant pathogens.

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical


Agents available but not yet released in the region:
Darwin’s Barberry flower weevil (Anthonomus kuscheli)
Darwin’s Barberry seed weevil (Berberidicola exaratus)

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications
Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel

Basic Growsafe certified
Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user
Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant

Safety notes

Plant has thorns.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Search tags

RPMP status

National Pest Plant Accord Species
Whole region (Sustained Control)
Darwin's barberry - Main species image