Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii): Images

Date Location Notes Images
September 14, 2010 Southeastern, New Hampshire Japanese Barberry shrub that grows 3 to 6 feet tall often with many spiny branches. The spines are thin, long and sharp! The branches are deeply grooved. At each node there are 2 - 6 spatula to oval-shaped leaves. The leaf margins are untoothed (entire). The flowers (not pictured) appear in mid-Spring to early Summer. Red fruit appears in the late Summer and early Fall and can last through the Winter.

Japanese Barberry is very similar to Common Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) except that the leaf margins of Japanese Barberry leaves are untoothed while the leaf margins of Common Barberry leaves are finely toothed.

Ripe Japanese Barberry (and Common Barberry) fruit is edible, but very sour. Reportedly, it is very good for jams and jellies and for juices after diluting and sweetening. The berries are high in Vitamin C.
Date Location Notes Images
September 16, 2010 Southeastern, New Hampshire Better pictures of the berries.
Date Location Notes Images
October 14, 2010 Southeastern, New Hampshire Picked 1-1/2 cups of Japanese Barberry berries. I waited way too long to pick them. Should have done it 3 weeks ago. There were many fewer berries available (animals probably got them) and the quality was poor. Even with a decent amount of honey and apple juice the taste is: yuck! Next year I will catch the berries earlier.
Date Location Notes Images
May 10, 2011 Southeastern, New Hampshire I have nibbled on young Japanese Barberry leaves a few times. Wildman Steve Brill has a Wild Food Application and has proven very useful. He says that the berries are unpleasant and bitter which I comfirmed last year when I tried making Japanese Barberry jam. He goes on to say that the young leaves have a pleasant sour taste. Well, I've been trying them for the last couple of weeks using the youngest possible leaves and I agree that there is initially a pleasant sour taste, but it is quickly followed by an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. Maybe I will have to try in mid-April next year.