This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
The Common Barberry is a spiny shrub, growing in hedge and copse, and brightening the spot from April to June with its strings of yellow flowers, and later in the year with its oblong red berries. Its shoots attain a height of from six to eight feet, and are clothed in a whitish bark, the wood being yellow. The flowers include eight or nine sepals and six petals: the outer sepals are very small and liable to be overlooked. The petals are in two series, and at the base of each petal are two honey-secreting glands, which induce the visits of honey-loving insects. There are six stamens, which ordinarily lie along the centre of the petals, their bases highly irritable. In an open flower like this any insect can get at the honey, but it is not easy to do so without touching the base of one of the stamens; on this being done the stamen springs forward, and the anthers strike the insect, dusting it with pollen, and in some cases driving it away. This mechanism may be tested by touching the base of a stamen with the point of a pin.
The Barberry is very liable to the attacks of a minute fungus, a stage in the development of wheat-rust (Uredo graminis). The name Berberis is the Arabic title of the plant.
Berberis vulgaris. - Berberideae. -