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Berberis darwinii

(Darwin Barberry)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in English:

Darwin Barberry, Darwin´s Barberry, Darwin's barberry, Darwin's Berberis, South American barberry

Common Names in German:

Darwins Berberitze

Common Names in Hungarian:

Darwin borbolya

Common Names in Norwegian:

Darwin berberis

Common Names in Portuguese:



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Family Berberidaceae

Herbs or shrubs [trees ], perennial , evergreen or deciduous, sometimes rhizomatous . Stems with or without spines. Leaves alternate, opposite, or fascicled, simple , 2-3-foliolate, or 1-3-pinnately or 2-3(-4) -ternately compound ; stipules present or absent; venation pinnate or palmate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary , racemes , cymes, umbels (or umbel-like), spikes, or panicles, or flowers solitary or in pairs, flowers pedicellate or sessile. Flowers bisexual , inconspicuous or showy, radially symmetric ; stipitate glands absent (except in Vancouveria ) ; sepaloid bracteoles 0-9; perianth sometimes absent ( Achlys ), more frequently present, 2- or 3-merous, or sepals and petals intergrading ( Nandis ) ; sepals 6, distinct , often petaloid and colored , not spurred ; petals 6-9, distinct, plane or hooded ; nectary present; stamens 6; anthers dehiscing by valves or longitudinal slits; ovary superior, apparently 1-carpellate; placentation marginal or appearing basal; style present or absent, sometimes persistent in fruit as beak . Fruits follicles, berries , or utricles. Seeds 1-50, sometimes arillate ; endosperm abundant; embryo large or small; mature seeds elevated on elongating stalk in Caulophyllum.

Genera 15, species ca. 650 (8 genera, 33 species in the flora ) : widespread, well represented in the north temperate zone.

Berberidaceae presents several interesting biogeographic features. Achlys is disjunct from western North America to east Asia with few morphologic differences between taxa. Diphylleia, Jeffersonia, and Podophyllum, each with a single eastern North American species, exhibit wide disjunctions to east Asia. Caulophyllum has three species, one in east Asia and two in the flora. Vancouveria is endemic to northwestern United States with nearest relations to Epimedium Linnaeus (H. Loconte and J. R. Estes 1989b; W. T. Stearn 1938), an exclusively Eastern Hemisphere genus.

Nandina, Berberis, Epimedium, and Podophyllum are cultivated.

The perianth of Berberidaceae is commonly composed of three distinct types of organs, but terminology for the organs varies from author to author. In our treatment, we refer to the small, outer parts as bracteoles (collectively forming a calyculus) ; the large, middle parts as sepals; and the innermost parts, which are commonly nectariferous , as petals. Some authors have referred to the bracteoles as outer sepals and to the petals as staminodes.[1]

Genus Berberis

Shrubs or subshrubs , evergreen or deciduous, 0.1-4.5(-8) m , glabrous or with tomentose stems. Rhizomes present or absent, short or long, not nodose . Stems branched or unbranched, monomorphic or dimorphic , i.e. , all elongate or with elongate primary stems and short axillary spur shoots . Leaves alternate, sometimes leaves of elongate shoots reduced to spines and foliage leaves borne only on short shoots; foliage leaves simple or 1-odd-pinnately compound ; petioles usually present. Simple leaves: blade narrowly elliptic , oblanceolate , or obovate , 1.2-7.5 cm. Compound leaves: rachis, when present, with or without swollen articulations ; leaflet blades lanceolate to orbiculate, margins entire, toothed , spinose , or spinose-lobed; venation pinnate or leaflets 3-6-veined from base . Inflorescences terminal , usually racemes , rarely umbels or flowers solitary. Flowers 3-merous, 3-8 mm; bracteoles caducous , 3, scalelike; sepals falling immediately after anthesis , 6, yellow; petals 6, yellow, nectariferous ; stamens 6; anthers dehiscing by valves ; pollen exine punctate ; ovary symmetrically club-shaped; placentation subbasal ; style central. Fruits berries , spheric to cylindric-ovoid or ellipsoid , usually juicy, sometimes dry, at maturity. Seeds 1-10, tan to red-brown or black; aril absent. x = 14.

Species ca. 500: almost worldwide.

Many species of Berberis are grown as ornamental shrubs. Some species harbor the black stem-rust of wheat ( Puccinia graminis Persoon) ; the sale or transport of susceptible or untested species is illegal in the United States and Canada. Data on susceptibility of Berberis spp. to infection by Puccinia graminis was supplied by Dr. D. L. Long, U.S. Department of Agriculture (pers. comm. ) .

The berries of many species are edible and frequently are used for jam and jelly.[2]

Physical Description

Species Berberis darwinii

Shrubs , evergreen , 1-3 m. Stems dimorphic , with elongate primary and short axillary shoots . Bark of 2d-year stems brown, densely tomentose . Bud scales 2-4 mm, deciduous. Spines present, pedately 5-9-fid. Leaves simple ; petioles 0.1-0.3 cm. Leaf blade obovate , 1-veined from base , 1.7-3 × 0.9-1.2 cm, thick and rigid , base acute or acuminate, margins reflexed , undulate , toothed or shallowly lobed , each with 2-4 teeth or lobes 1-3 mm high tipped with spines to 1.2-1.6 × 0.2-0.3 mm, apex obtuse or rounded ; surfaces abaxially glossy, smooth , adaxially glossy, green. Inflorescences racemose, rather dense, 10-20-flowered, 3-4 cm; bracteoles membranous, apex acuminate. Flowers: anther filaments without distal pair of recurved lateral teeth . Berries dark purple, spheric, 6-7 mm, juicy, solid. [source]

Berberis darwinii only rarely escapes from cultivation. It is resistant to infection by Puccinia graminis. [source]

Habit: Shrub

Flowers: Bloom Period: March, April, May. • Flower Color: goldyellow-orange


Size: 6-8' tall.


Humid areas near coast; 0-20 m [3].

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,701 meters (0 to 15,423 feet).[4]


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Duration: Perennial


Culture: Space 4-6' apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 5.6 • Maximum pH: 7.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)


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Berberis darwinii is a synonym of Berberis darwinii Hook.

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Berberis

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 99 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

B. aggregata (Salmon Barberry) · B. aquifolium (Holly Leaved Oregon Grape) · B. aquifolium repens (Creeping Barberry) · B. aquifolium var. Aquifolium (Mountain-Grape) · B. buxifolia (Box-Leaved Barberry) · B. buxifolia 'Nana' (Dwarf Box-Leaved Barberry) · B. calliantha (Black-Berried Barberry) · B. canadensis (Allegheny Barberry) · B. candidula (Pale-Leaf Barberry) · B. chinensis (Chinese Barberry) · B. coxii (Barberry) · B. darwinii (Darwin Barberry) · B. dictyophylla (Barberry) · B. dielsiana (Barberry) · B. empetrifolia (Barberry) · B. fendleri (Colorado Barberry) · B. frikartii 'Amstelveen' (Barberry) · B. frikartii 'Telstar' (Barberry) · B. gagnepainii (Black Barberry) · B. glaucocarpa (Barberry) · B. gracilis (Mexican Barberry) · B. gyalaica (Barberry) · B. harrisoniana (Harrison's Barberry) · B. heterophylla (Calafate Barberry) · B. hookeri (Barberry) · B. insignis (Barberry) · B. julianae (Wintergreen Barberry) · B. julianae 'Spring Glory' (Spring Glory Barberry) · B. julianiae (Julian's Berberis) · B. kaschgarica (Kashgar Barberry) · B. koreana (Korean Barberry) · B. linearifolia 'Orange King' (Barberry) · B. microphylla (Calafate Barberry) · B. nervosa (Long Leaved Oregon Grape) · B. nevinii (Nevin's Barberry) · B. ottawensis (Ottawa Barberry) · B. ottawiensis 'Silver Mile' (Variegated Japanese Barberry) · B. pinnata (Cluster Holly-Grape) · B. pinnata insularis (Island Barberry) · B. poiretii (Barberry) · B. prattii (Barberry) · B. regeliana (Barberry) · B. repens (Creeping Oregon Grape) · B. replicata (Barberry) · B. shensiana (Barberry) · B. sherriffii (Barberry) · B. sieboldii (Red-Stemmed Barberry) · B. soulieana (Pink-Fruited Barberry) · B. temolaica (Barberry) · B. thibetica (Thibetan Barberry) · B. thunbergii (Dwarf Redleaf Barberry) · B. thunbergii Bonanza Gold = 'Bogozam' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Concorde' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. Atropurpurea'Crimson Pygmy' (Crimson Pygmy Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Crimson Velvet' (Dwarf Redleaf Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Lime Glow' (Dwarf Redleaf Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Marshall's Upright' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Nana' (Crimson Pygmy Barberry) · B. thunbergiivar. Atropurpurea 'Rose Glow' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Aurea' (Golden Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Aurea Nana' (Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Bagatelle' (Bagatelle Dwarf Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Bonanza Gold' (Bonanza Gold Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Cherry Bomb' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy' (Crimson Pygmy Dwarf Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Erecta' (Upright Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Gentry' (Royal Burgundy® Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Helmond Pillar' (Helmond Pillar Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Kobold' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Lime Glow' (Lime Glow Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Pow-Wow' (Pow Wow Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Royal Burgundy' (Royal Burgundy Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Royal Cloak' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Sparkle' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Sunsation' (Japanese Barberry) · B. thunbergii 'Thornless' (Japanese Barberry) · B. verruculosa (Barberry) · B. vulgaris (Beet) · B. wilcoxii (Wilcox Hollygrape) · B. wilsoniae (Barberry) · B. wilsoniae 'Ace' (Barberry) · B. wisleyensis (Wisley Barberry) · B. x carminea 'Pirate King' (Barberry) · B. x gladwynensis 'William Penn' (Barberry) · B. x hybrido-gagnepainii 'Chenault' (Barberry) · B. x interposita 'Wallich's Purple' (Wallich's Purple Barberry) · B. x media 'Red Jewel' (Barberry) · B. × ottawensis (Ottawa Barberry) · B. x ottawensis'Superba' (Barberry) · B. x stenophylla (Barberry) · B. x stenophylla 'Claret Cascade' (Barberry) · B. x stenophylla 'Corallina Compacta' (Barberry) · B. x stenophylla 'Irwinii' (Barberry) · B. x stenophylla 'Nana Compacta' (Rosemary Barberry) · B. x wisleyensis (Barberry) · B. x 'Emerald Carousel' (Japanese Barberry) · B. 'Golden Carousel' (Barberry) · B. ottawensis (Ottawa Barberry) · B. 'Ruby Carousel' (Japanese Barberry)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 12, 2007:



  1. Whetstone, R. David, T. A. Atkinson and Daniel D. Spaulding "Berberidaceae". in Flora of North America Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  2. Alan T. Whittemore "Berberis". in Flora of North America Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Berberis darwinii". in Flora of North America Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  4. Mean = 467.540 meters (1,533.924 feet), Standard Deviation = 774.490 based on 17,795 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-04