PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Barberry ‘Orange Torch’ (Berberis thunbergia)

Barberries are most typically and unfortunately encountered as dark reddish purple bushy shrubs planted too close to pathways and entrances where their bazillion needly prickles make you wonder what someone was thinking planting it there.

‘Orange Torch’ Barberry is here to redeem the good name of Barberries everywhere. It, and it’s sister ‘Red Torch’ grow into an elegant narrow column up to about 3-4 feet tall. ‘Orange Torch’ has deep reddish-orange leaves in summer which transition to chartreuse and yellow. As colder weather arrives its colors deepen and it adds reddish purple to the flaming oranges, reds, and yellows. Deciduous, but leaves tend to persist into winter in the Puget Sound area.

We use them in our landscape constructions as ‘bookends’ at the beginning or end of a path or entrance. We also use them in ornamental garden arrangements full of bushy shrubs and perennials as occasional exclamation points (which their form resembles) of color. Their vertical form nicely breaks up the ‘mass’ effect of other plantings. Drought tolerant, care free.

The wood of Barberries is used to make bright yellow dye. Did you know that our NW native Oregon Grape is a type of Barberry (Berberis) and is also used for dye?