Knowing how to identify berry leaf shrubs is important, especially when using them in landscaping or in the wild. The most common berry shrubs used in landscaping are the blackberry, currant, elderberry, raspberry and viburnum. Berries found on shrubs can be edible, inedible and even poisonous. Critical factors to look at when identifying berry leaf shrubs are shrub size, leaves, leaf arrangement, berry color and flowers.

An example of a berry shrub.

Shrub Size

It is important to take into consideration the size of the plant when identifying berry leaf shrubs. Berry leaf shrubs can range in height from 3 feet tall to 7 feet tall. The shortest berry shrub, at only 3 feet tall, is the stink currant shrub. The red currant shrub, on the other hand, grows to be one of the tallest shrubs, reaching 7 feet tall. Berry shrubs also vary in their density. Some shrubs may be very full, while others may be more sparse.


One of the simplest parts of the plant to use to identify a berry shrub is the leaves--the shape of the leaf, texture of the edge of the leaf (ridged or smooth), color of the leaf, and texture of the leaf (some may be velvety, smooth or even hairy). In identifying the type of shrub, the type of leaf should also be noted, that is, whether it's deciduous or evergreen.

Leaf Arrangement

How the leaves are arranged along the stem of the berry shrub should also be examined. The leaves may alternate down the stem or be paired or parallel with one another. Noting the length of the stem may also be helpful in identifying a berry leaf shrub.

Berry Color

One significant identifiable feature among berry shrubs is berry color. Berries can range from a deep purple on the elderberry shrub, a sapphire blue on the sapphire berry shrub, bright red on the raspberry shrub and even black on the inkberry holly shrub. Most berry shrubs produce berries in the last part of summer through fall.


The features of the flowers on berry leaf shrubs are also very helpful in the identifying the shrub. When examining the flowers on the shrub, the size, color, number of petals and shape should be noted. Most often flowers on berry shrubs are light pink to white in color, but possess other significantly different features. For example, the flowers on the raspberry shrub are very large and can reach 1 inch in diameter.