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A deciduous, glabrous shrub up to 6 ft high, with grooved reddish young shoots. Spines on vigorous young shoots sometimes five-forked, with each fork curiously flattened, ovate, and nearly 1⁄4 in. wide; from this type they grade down to slender single ones. Leaves 1 to 24⁄5 in. long, obovate or oval, rounded at the apex, tapered to a stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long; strongly veined beneath. Flowers yellow, borne in drooping racemes, 3 to 4 in. long, each flower on a slender stalk about 1⁄2 in. long. Fruits roundish egg-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, bright red.
Native of Korea, where, according to James H. Veitch, who visited that country in 1892, it is found often in quantity in hedgerows. The larger spines described above suggest those of the South American B. actinacantha, but are not always present. The leaves are large as barberries go and turn a good colour in autumn; the fruits also last long in colour.