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Are Barberry Bush Thorns Poisonous? [Tips & Tricks To Handle]

A defense mechanism adopted by the Barberry bush to protect itself from ruminant pests like deer ticks is all because of the pointed thorns around the stems.

Generally, Among more than 500 Barberry species, most bear thorns, but some species of Orange Rocket Barberry have no thorns. Moreover, Barberry bush thorns aren’t poisonous but can cause serious infection in case of accidental piercing.

Barberry was first introduced in the U.S. as an ornamental plant and spread rapidly due to poor management.

So, read this entire article if you want to decorate your new yard with Barberry bushes but are unaware of their irritating thorns.

Which Barberry Has Thorns?

Barberries are a good choice to design your landscape, but they may equally be challenging to deal with because of their stingy thorns.

No worries, you need not deal with Barberries frequently as the plant requires minimal maintenance. Still, they attract nasty ticks infected by Lyme disease.

Thus, Barberry is banned in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York as the plant is a prime hiding location of those deer ticks.

Moreover, they invade endemic plants and destroy the native ecosystem with their troubling thorns.

Barberry bush with thorn
Thorns on Barberry occur on the nodes of the plant.

There are about 400 Barberry species, including American Barberry, Common Barberry, Japanese Barberry, Red Barberry, and many more.

Most of the common Barberry plants bear three spiny thorns at every node of the plant. Unlike others, every node of Japanese Barberry bears a single thorn.

However, you can also find thornless barberries too. Berberis thunbergii, or Orange Rocket Barberry, is thornless and suits best in zone 4.

Are The Thorns On A Barberry Bush Poisonous?

Although Barberry plants don’t release any poisonous compounds after stinging skin in animals or humans, the infection may occur in the wound caused by the thorns.

Barberry fruit
To be honest, the barberry fruits does not look any delicious.

The thorn is not toxic itself, but if it pricks on the joints, you may suffer from plant thorn arthritis causing painful joints.

However, the other parts, like leaves, stems, and fruits, are toxic to humans and pets if you or your pets take them in large amounts.

Although a small intake is beneficial, the berberine in this plant makes you suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain due to high doses.

In case of heavy ingestion, contact:

Should You Remove Barberry Bush Thorns?

Thorns on Barberry bushes protect the plant from herbivores and other enemies. However, those thorns make us difficult to deal with plant maintenance.

Consider these steps to eliminate those irritating spines and enhance the bushy garden design.

  • Firstly, wear gloves and clothes with long sleeves to protect yourself from these prickly thorns.
  • Look closely at the spines and choose appropriate pruning shears, secateurs, or other tools to remove them.
  • Trim the thorn without leaving any remaining, ensuring no additional damage to the bush.
  • Make sure you have disposed of the prickles you removed in the proper place to avoid accidents.
  • Disinfect the cuts on the plant with isopropyl alcohol mixed with a fungicide or neem oil to prevent pathogens.
  • Repeat the process timely after new growth occurs in the bushes.

From Editorial Team

Know the Non-invasive Barberry!

Although most Barberry species invade the native plants, you can find some non-invasive species like Crimson Cutie and the Concorde Barberry.

Concorde Barberry contains few seeds, whereas Crimson Cutie bears no seeds letting you enhance your yard without fear of invasion.