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Vascular Plants of California
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Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata

Higher Taxonomy
Family: BerberidaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, [tree], generally rhizomed, caudexed or not, glabrous, glaucous, or hairy. Stem: spreading to erect, branched or not. Leaf: simple, 1--3-ternate, or pinnately compound, basal and cauline, generally alternate, deciduous or evergreen, petioled, stipuled. Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, or panicle, scapose, terminal, or axillary. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals 6--18 or 0, generally in whorls of 3; petals generally 6, in 2 whorls of 3, or 0; stamens 6--12(13), free or fused at base, in 2 whorls 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, achene [follicle].
Genera In Family: 16 genera, +- 670 species: temperate, tropics worldwide; some cultivated (Berberis, Epimedium, Nandina (heavenly bamboo), Vancouveria). Note: Lower sepals sometimes called "bracteoles," inner petals "staminodes".
eFlora Treatment Author: Michael P. Williams
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: BerberisView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Shrub, generally rhizomed. Stem: spreading to erect, branched, spiny or not, vine-like or not; inner bark, wood generally bright yellow; over-wintering bud scales deciduous or not. Leaf: simple or pinnately compound, cauline, alternate, generally leathery, generally persistent; 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, bases generally glandular; stamens 6; ovules 2--9, stigma +- spheric. Fruit: berry, spheric to elliptic, generally purple-black.
Species In Genus: +- 600 species: temperate worldwide. Etymology: (Latin: ancient Arabic name for barberry) Toxicity: Roots often TOXIC: spines may inject fungal spores into skin. Note: Contact with filament causes stamen to snap inward, possibly to deposit pollen on pollinator.
Reference: Kim 2004 J Pl Res 117:175--182
Unabridged Reference: Moran 1982 Phytologia 52:221--226, for relationship between Berberis, Mahonia.
Species: Berberis pinnataView Description 

Stem: upper reclining to erect; bud scales generally deciduous. Leaf: cauline, not crowded, 9--20 cm; petiole generally 1--3 cm; leaflets generally 7--11, terminal 3--7 cm, 2--4.5 cm wide, ovate to wide-elliptic, wavy, base +- lobed to truncate, tip acute to obtuse except tooth, margin entire to generally dentate to serrate, spines 15--23 per side, 0.1--2 mm. Inflorescence: 3--7.5 cm, dense; axis internodes 2--4 mm in flower. Fruit: 6--8 mm diam, ovoid to obovoid, glaucous, blue-purple. Seed: 3--4 mm.
Note: Relationship to Berberis aquifolium needs study.
Berberis pinnata Lag. subsp. pinnata
Habit: Plant generally < 2 m. Stem: upper generally erect. Leaf: entire or generally serrate; leaflet margins generally wavy, spines generally > 1 mm. Inflorescence: 3.5--7.5 cm.
Ecology: Rocky slopes, conifer forest, oak woodland, chaparral; Elevation: < 1900 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CW, WTR, SnGb, PR; Distribution Outside California: to British Columbia, Baja California. Flowering Time: Feb--May Note: Intergrades with Berberis aquifolium var. dictyota.
Synonyms: Mahonia pinnata (Lag.) Fedde subsp. pinnata
Jepson eFlora Author: Michael P. Williams
Reference: Kim 2004 J Pl Res 117:175--182
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Citation for this treatment: Michael P. Williams 2012, Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 19, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 19, 2021.

Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2014 Neal Kramer
Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2014 Neal Kramer
Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2014 Neal Kramer
Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2007 Neal Kramer
Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2016 Neal Kramer
Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata
click for enlargement
© 2007 Neal Kramer

More photos of Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Berberis pinnata subsp. pinnata:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).