An evergreen shrub up to 6 ft high, forming thickets of erect stems; young shoots glabrous, reddish, becoming grey; armed with three-pronged spines that are 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. long, sharp and rigid, grooved beneath. Leaves narrowly elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, slender-pointed, 11⁄2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, edged with forward-pointing spiny teeth (sometimes double); dark green above, paler and distinctly veined on the undersides, quite glabrous on both surfaces. Flowers pale yellow, about 1⁄3 in. across, borne in stalkless clusters of two to six; petals broadly obovate, notched at the apex; individual flower-stalk up to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruit black when ripe, broadly egg-shaped, 1⁄3 in. long.
Native of W. Hupeh, China; introduced by Wilson in 1907. It is allied to B. hookeri and similar in habit, but hardier. In the Arnold Arboretum it is described as the only evergreen barberry known to be hardy there. At Kew it has withstood, quite unaffected, weather which injured B. hookeri.
B. dumicola Schneid. – This attractive species is closely related to the preceding but is smaller in stature, the flowers richer coloured and more numerous, and the berries bloomy.