Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’

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Robert Pavlis

Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’ adds great color to a larger rock garden. It looks good from spring to fall and can be pruned to any height that suits its location. The flowers are insignificant, but the foliage steals the show.

Berberis thunbergii 'Concorde': Photo by Robert Pavlis
Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’: Photo by Robert Pavlis

Berberis thunbergii is a Japanese species that has become invasive in the northeastern US and I have even found it in Southern Ontario. It can grow in part shade and fills in under larger trees forming impenetrable stands. The cultivar Concorde, fruits very little and does not make viable seeds, so it should not be a problem.

Berberis thunbergii 'Concorde': Photo by Robert Pavlis
Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’: Photo by Robert Pavlis

B. thunbergiiis is a tick magnet. Researchers have found ten times as many ticks in a field with barberry compared to one without the plant. This should not be an issue with Concorde growing in a manicured rock garden.

Concorde leafs out red and turns a dark maroon-purple with exposure to light. Lower leaves that are not exposed to sun will turn green, but these are not visible unless you reach in and move some branches aside. It is multi-stemmed and forms a nice tight clump. It requires no annual maintenance and once established it is very drought tolerant.

Microbe Science for Gardeners Book, by Robert Pavlis
Berberis thunbergii 'Concorde', photo by David J. Stang
Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’, photo by David J. Stang

The Concorde Japanese Barberry can be grown into a 3 ft x 3 ft (90 cm x 90 cm) shrub over time, but it can also be pruned to almost any size. The one in the picture is about 1.5 ft (45 cm) tall but I think it could be kept as small as 4″ (10 cm) with annual pruning. It is easily propagated by cuttings. As with all barberries, it does have thorns which deter deer, rodents and humans.

Berberis thunbergii invading wooded area, photo by Ontario's Invasive Species
Berberis thunbergii invading wooded area, photo by Ontario’s Invasive Species

Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’

(BUR-bur-is  thun-BERG-ee-eye)

Life Cycle: shrub

Height: 90 cm (3 ft)

Bloom Time: early summer

Natural Range: Japan and eastern Asia

Habitat: woodland edges

Synonyms:  Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea

Cultivation of Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde’:

Light: part shade to full sun– best color in full sun

Soil: well drained

Water: average to dry

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 10

Propagation: cuttings root easily

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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