Japanese Barberry 'Atropurpurea Nana'

Berberis thunbergii

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Berberis (BUR-bur-is) (Info)
Species: thunbergii (thun-BERG-ee-eye) (Info)
Cultivar: Atropurpurea Nana
Additional cultivar information:(aka Crimson Pygmy, Little Favourite)
Synonym:Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage




This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

By stooling or mound layering

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Midland City, Alabama

Hoonah, Alaska

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Knights Landing, California

Oxford, Connecticut

Washington, District Of Columbia

Keystone Heights, Florida

Ellijay, Georgia

Crystal Lake, Illinois

Danville, Indiana

Olathe, Kansas

Alfred, Maine

Saint Louis, Missouri

Lincoln, Nebraska

Keyport, New Jersey

North Tonawanda, New York

Rural Hall, North Carolina

Fargo, North Dakota (2 reports)

Hamilton, Ohio

Gresham, Oregon

Lake Oswego, Oregon

Reading, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Bolivar, Tennessee

Boerne, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Iredell, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

South Jordan, Utah

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Birchwood, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 21, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Trade, transport, and planting this shrub is illegal in my state and two others, because it invades and destroys natural areas. I've seen state woodland turned into impenetrable thorny thickets of this species, where nothing else in the understory layer survives. It has naturalized across North America north of a line running from Georgia to Wyoming, and also in Washington.


On Oct 12, 2012, WINDNSALT from Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, NS (Zone 5a) wrote:

The Berberri "Thumbergii" species is considered "invasive" inso far as birds love the fruit; eating it and dispursing the seeds everywhere. They germinate readily, and can quickly take over a huge space. Deer do not like this plant. This species COULD eradicate or reduce plant material needed by Deer.

Look up various cultivars of Berberri to see if you can find a Thumbergii Cultivar or other Cultivar that is a little better controlled.


On Oct 11, 2012, hunagardener from Hoonah, AK (Zone 6b) wrote:

Is this the plant that is listed as invasive? My home is on a mountainside surrounded by the forest. Is it safe for me to plant this in my yard without endangering its spread to the forest?


On Oct 20, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Japanese Barberry, Dwarf Redleaf Barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea) 'Crimson Pygmy' has been a very slow grower for me. I planted 2 plants and one of them died after about 3 years from some sort of a fungus. I have found it difficult to find a plant that is the same size to replace the one that did not live. It requires no maintenance and provides beautiful color all year long. It is planted in the hottest, driest part of my yard and requires little water.


On May 21, 2008, therica from Falling Waters, WV (Zone 7a) wrote:

Informally known as ihaithatshit by my wife, who despises the rather small but painfully-sharp short needles. The plant is nearly impossible to handle without gloves and sleeve-protection.

Beautiful dark-red foilage even in spring, seems to grow well with much abuse, poor soil and hot dry full-sun summers.

Ours are being transplanted to a safer part of our property, away from frequent human exposure.

Definitely deer-resistant, the deer seem to eat half of our small shrubs every winter but these are (of course!) never touched.


On Nov 23, 2007, HoosierGreen from Danville, IN wrote:

The thing to remember with this particular variety of "dwarf" barberry is that since it has become so popular, it is rarely propagated by cuttings anymore (cloning). Rather, it is more commonly sold propagated from seed, which results in a wide range of mature sizes. It's like planting seed from a great-colored blue spruce, which would result in seedlings with a range of color from plain green, to green-blue, blue-green, and a few good blues. If you want a real dwarf red barberry, search for cloned varieties (from stem cuttings) such as 'Bagatelle', 'Royal Burgandy', or 'Concorde'. That way, you won't be disappointed and stuck with trimming such a prickly shrub every year. Interestingly, nurseries have started to stock a variety called 'True Crimson Pygmy', after many professional landscap... read more


On Nov 17, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I like this plant....but my 'pygmy's are now nearly 4 foot tall. They can get bigger than advertised.

I like a natural , open shape and don't prune heavilly....but these are getting a little big for their breeches. As long as they don't get much bigger, they're fine where I've put them, but I'm going to have to give them serious haircuts if they continue to grow.


On Apr 17, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Old leaves are bronze-red while the new growth tips are a lighter color. This is a dwarf plant and is suitable for flower beds and walkways.