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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Michael P. Williams

Perennial, shrub, generally from rhizomes; caudex sometimes present, glabrous, glaucous, or hairy
Stems spreading to erect, branched or not
Leaves simple, 1–3-ternate, or pinnately compound, basal and cauline, generally alternate, deciduous or evergreen, petioled
Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, or panicle, scapose, terminal, or axillary
Flower: sepals 6–18 or 0, generally in whorls of 3; petals generally 6, in 2 whorls of 3, or 0; stamens 6–12, free or fused at base, 2-whorled or not, anthers dehiscent by flap-like valves or longitudinal slits; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovules generally 1–10, style 1 or 0, stigma flat or spheric
Fruit: berry, capsule, or achene
Genera in family: 16 genera, ± 670 species: temp, tropical worldwide; some cultivated (Berberis, Epimedium, Nandina (Heavenly bamboo), Vancouveria )
Reference: [Ernst 1964 J Arnold Arbor 45:1–35]



Shrub, generally from rhizomes
Stems spreading to erect, branching, spiny or not, sometimes vine-like; inner bark, wood generally bright yellow; bud bracts deciduous or persistent
Leaves simple or pinnately compound, cauline, alternate, deciduous or evergreen; leaflets generally 3–11, ± round to lanceolate, generally spine-toothed
Inflorescence: raceme, axillary or terminal
Flower: sepals 9 in 3 whorls of 3; petals 6 in 2 whorls of 3, base generally glandular; stamens 6, anther valves pointed down to ± spreading; ovules 2–9, stigma ± spheric
Fruit: berry, spheric to elliptic, generally purple-black
Species in genus: ± 600 species: temp worldwide
Etymology: (Latin: ancient Arabic name for barberry)
[see Moran 1982 Phytologia 52:221–226 for relationship between Berberis and Mahonia ] Roots often TOXIC; spines may inject fungal spores into skin.


B. aquifolium Pursh

Stems spreading to erect, 0.1–2 m; bud scales generally deciduous
Leaves cauline, not crowded, 8–24 cm; petiole 1–6 cm; leaflets 5–9, 2–7.5 cm, 1.5–4.5 cm wide, ± round to elliptic, ± flat to strongly wavy, base slightly lobed to wedge-shaped, tip acute to obtuse (except tooth), margin serrate, spine-tipped teeth 6–24(40), 2–5 mm
Inflorescence 3–6 cm, dense; axis internodes 2–4 mm in flower, fruit
Fruit 4–7 mm diam, ovoid to obovoid, glaucous, dark blue to purple
Seeds 4–5 mm
Ecology: Slopes, canyons, coniferous forest, oak woodland, chaparral
Elevation: < 2200 m.
Bioregional distribution: California Floristic Province (except North Coast, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast, Channel Islands), Great Basin Floristic Province, Mojave Desert
Distribution outside California: to Canada, Great Plains, n Mexico
Varieties intergrade; variation needs study.


var. repens (Lindl.) H. Scoggan

Stems spreading to erect, generally < 0.8 m
Leaves 8–18 cm; petiole 1–6 cm; leaflets generally 5–7, 3–7 cm, 2.5–4.5 cm wide, round, widely elliptic, or ovate, ± flat, base oblique to slightly rounded; marginal teeth 11–15, 0.5–1 mm
Fruit obovoid to elliptic, blue to dark blue
Chromosomes: 2n=28
Ecology: Habitats of sp.
Elevation: 300–2200 m.
Bioregional distribution: Klamath Ranges, North Coast Ranges, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, Peninsular Ranges, Great Basin Floristic Province, Mojave Desert
Distribution outside California: to British Columbia, Great Plains
Flowering time: Apr–Jun
Synonyms: B. repens Lindl.; B. amplectens (Eastw.) L.C. Wheeler; B. pumila Greene; B. sonnei (Abrams) McMinn; Mahonia s. Abrams Truckee barberry CA, US
Horticultural information: In cultivation.

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