A deciduous shrub to 5 ft high, of open habit and with dark red stems. Spines three-parted or single, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Leaves entire or with a few distant teeth, 1⁄3 to 1 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. wide, elliptic to obovate, with a tapering base. Flowers six to fifteen in a cluster or short raceme, orange-yellow. Berries ovoid, black and slightly glaucous, 1⁄4 in. long.
Native of the mountains of S.E. Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. It has been regarded by some authorities as a variety or subspecies of B. vulgaris, but is very distinct from this in its blue-black fruits and red stems. By Dr Ahrendt it is placed in the section Crataeginae, together with B. aetnensis (q.v.) and the little-known B. crataegina of Asia Minor. The common barberry has its closest allies not in Europe, but in E. Asia.