Pow-wow Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Pow-wow'

Pow-wow Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Pow-wow'

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Pow-wow Barberry forms a narrow, upright column reaching 2 or 3 feet, and staying just 1 or 2 feet wide. The leaves are constantly changing, beginning the year glowing yellow with red tips. Summer leaves are chartreuse to bright green, with irregular white mottling and patterning on many leaves. The fall display is spectacular, turning glowing orange from top to bottom. It’s shape is ideal for low hedges and barriers – trimmed or untrimmed. Grow it as a vertical accent in shrub beds, or among rocks and boulders on slopes. In spring it has yellow flowers among the leaves, and bright red berries decorate the bare stems in fall, before they are eaten by birds.

  • Slender, upright shape is perfect for small hedges
  • Spring growth is glowing yellow with red tips
  • Summer leaves are bright green with white mottling
  • Brilliant rich orange tones in fall
  • Tough, reliable, cold and deer resistant

The Pow-wow Barberry will show the brightest colors when grown in full sun. Any well-drained soil is perfect, and that includes urban soils, sands and gravels, and clays too. Once established it is very drought resistant, and it’s cold-resistant too. A great shrub without pest, disease or deer problems, and one that needs almost no attention to thrive and look great.

Plant Hardiness Zones 3-8
Mature Width 1-2
Mature Height 2-3
Sun Needs Full Sun
Zones 3-8

If you think that garden barberries are about dark red leaves, think again. Today there are many different ones, with different colors, but for an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color through the seasons, you simply won’t beat the Pow-wow Barberry. The spring begins with bright yellow tipped with red, a great wake-up call. As summer comes the older leaves turn a bright, light green that is fascinatingly mottled with white, while the new tips stay golden. Some pink flushes remain. Then in fall it pulls out all the stops, when it turns fantastic and vibrant orange tones. The falling leaves reveal a surprise crop of bright red berries, and all this on an upright column of branches that are all set to make a low hedge, and that thrive in heat, sun and drier soils. Tough as nails, you can’t stop any barberry from growing almost anywhere, and you can’t beat this one for bright color.

Growing the Pow-wow Barberry

Size and Appearance

The Pow-wow Barberry is a small deciduous shrub forming a narrow column of upright branches two or three feet tall and a foot or two wide. The stems are covered with leaves from top to bottom – on new growth they are evenly spaced along the stem and on older stems they grow from very short side-stems called ‘spurs’, that carry clusters of leaves. The stems are studded with short, sharp spines. The small leaves are almost circular, and no more than an inch across. In spring the leaves are golden yellow to yellow-green, edged in red and the new stems are orange-red. A plant at this time is a glowing golden column. As the leaves mature they turn chartreuse green to mid-green, and many of them are mottled with white areas, giving a bright summer effect. When the cooler nights of fall arrive the whole bush turns brilliant orange-red, really shining out across the garden.

Clusters of golden flowers form in early spring. They nestle among the new leaves, In spring, so they are relatively inconspicuous and might be missed. By late summer they have become bright red berries. These are often only noticed once the leaves fall, but they make a great show in late fall, before birds take them. If you live in states or areas where there is a danger of seeds being carried into wild areas. Take a look at our full range of varieties – we have many that don’t produce seeds and so don’t spread at all.

Using the Pow-wow Barberry in Your Garden

With its slender bushy form the Pow-wow Barberry is ideal for short hedges, perhaps along paths and driveways, but it also makes an excellent accent plant in a shrub bed. For hedges, space plants 12 inches apart in an evenly-spaced row. This plant can be grown on slopes and among rocks and boulders, and in hot, dry areas where it is hard to find suitable plants. With its sharp spines it is a great barrier against intruders – both four-legged and two-legged. Plant it beneath windows and along fences, where it will repel all but the most determined.


The Pow-wow Barberry is hardy in zone 3, so it’s a great choice for cold zones. It also grows well even in zone 8, with heat and humidity – a true plant for all across the country.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

The best location for the Pow-wow Barberry is in full sun, as shade will reduce the bright colors in all seasons. It grows easily in all well-drained soils, including poor soils and sandy, dry areas. It tolerates urban soils too, and grows almost anywhere. It resists salt spray and urban pollution, so it’s ideal for tough urban gardens.

Maintenance and Pruning

You need to do very little to maintain the Pow-wow Barberry. Pests, diseases and deer don’t bother it, and once established it will grow without additional watering in most places. You don’t need to trim, but if you do, it can be trimmed at any time, although in late spring, after the first flush of new growth has matured, is probably best. It can be trimmed again in late summer if wanted.

History and Origin of the Pow-wow Barberry

The Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii, grows naturally in rocky places and mountains in both Japan and China. The first plants were brought to America by collectors from the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University in Boston, in 1875. Those first wild plants had green leaves, and were enjoyed mostly for their golden flowers and red berries. It wasn’t long before variations in leaf color began to appear among seedlings, and since then many varieties have been created. Sadly it seems that no-one kept a record of where the variety called Pow-wow was discovered, so we have no-one to thank for this great plant.

Buying the Pow-wow Barberry at the Tree Center

Named varieties like this one are reproduced from stem pieces, so every plant is genetically identical to that original Pow-wow. This is exactly the value in buying named varieties – you know exactly how they will turn out, making uniform hedges easy. This bright and always changing variety is sure to spark up your garden, so order now, while we still have plants available.

The sale of Japanese Barberry varieties that produce seeds in banned in Maine, New York State, and Minnesota. Other states have placed restrictions. Although we attempt to stay up to date on each states’ Department of Agriculture regulations, rules can vary, and change rapidly. This link will show you the situation in your own state, and remember that barberry is not a problem in many states and can be grown without concern. Check our site for non-seeding varieties of Barberry, as many are available. These are not restricted by most states, as they cannot spread.

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Pow-wow Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Pow-wow'