A low glabrous shrub. Leaves: petioled, pinnate, the leaflets three to seven, ovate, obtuse, truncate at the base, sessile, thick, finely retriculated, dentate with spine-bearing teeth. Flowers: in short racemes, the clusters terminal and axillary, many-flowered, yellow. Fruit: a globose dark blue berry.

This shrub, which is exceedingly ornamental, has yellow wood and bright green foliage, which turns to a lovely reddish colour in the autumn. The tiny vivid yellow flowers grow in short thick clusters; they have six bracted sepals, with six petals opposite them, also six stamens.

Berberis aquifolium, or Oregon Grape, is a taller shrub than the preceding species, with five to nine oblong-ovate, pointed, pinnate leaves, which are spiny-toothed and very green and shining on the upper surface. The bud scales are triangular, and the tiny yellow flowers grow in terminal and axillary clusters.