How to Identify Purple-Leaved Shrubs


Purple-leaved shrubs add an interesting visual element to any garden. Leaf color ranges from reddish purple to a deep black purple. Most purple-leaved shrubs are deciduous and lose their leaves in the fall. Chosen carefully for your climate and growing situation, these shrubs provide years of landscape beauty with little maintenance beyond occasional pruning and watering.

Step 1

Examine the foliage's color and shape. Barberry has small, oval reddish-purple leaves. Judas tree has large, oval purple leaves, pointed at the ends. Purple-leaved elder has long, narrow grayish-purple leaves. Purple ninebark leaves are deep black-purple. Smoke bush, purple-leaved plum and purple-leaf sand cherry have elongated oval leaves. Purple-leaved hazel has oval leaves with a crinkled texture.

Step 2

Inspect the shrub for flowers in the spring and summer. Tea tree has small white flowers. Barberry produces yellow flowers. Purplenine bark has large light pink flowers. The purple-leaved plum and purple-leaf sand cherry have white-pink flowers, similar to those found on fruit trees in spring.

Step 3

Examine the growing habit of the shrub. Tea tree has a stiff, erect form. Barberry has a somewhat sprawling, rounded form. Purple-leaved plum and purple-leaf sand cherry have a mounded form while purplenine bark and smoke bush have an upright tree form.


  • Shrubs with Purple Foliage
  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 1988

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Transplanting Guide
Keywords: purple leafed shrubs, identifying purple shrubs, purple shrubs

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.