Berberis (Barberries, pepperidge bushes)



Berberis (Barberries, pepperidge bushes) is a genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs in the family Berberidaceae, comprising about 450-500 species. The genus is native to temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. The genus is closely related to another genus Mahonia.

Berberis, 1-5 m tall, is a plant with thorny, dimorphic shoots. There are long shoots which form the structure of the plant, and short shoots that are 1-2 mm long. The leaves on long shoots are non-photosynthetic, which developed into three-spined thorns 3-30 mm long. Each thorn leaf has bud which develops a short shoot with several normal, photosynthetic leaves, 1-10 cm long, simple, with entire or spiny margins.

Berberis thunbergii and berberis vulgaris are deciduous species noted for good autumn color, with their leaves turning red or pink before falling. Berberis candidula and Berberis verruculosa are evergreen species from China, with leaves that are brilliant white beneath, making them particularly attractive.

The yellow or orange flowers, 3-6 mm long, with six sepals and six petals are borne singly or in racemes of up to 20, in alternating whorls of three on a single flower-head. The sepals are usually in same color like the petals. The fruit is a small berry 5-15 mm long, ripening to a red or dark blue, often with a pink or violet waxy surface bloom. The berry is either long and narrow (like a bar, hence 'Barberry') or in some species spherical.

Barberries are edible, and rich in vitamin C, with a very sharp flavor. The berries are not widely consumed because of the thorny shrub which make harvesting them a difficult task. The berries are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Berberis species are popular garden shrubs, grown for their colorful foliage, yellow flowers and the red or blue-black berries. The thorny plant is also valued for crime prevention and is often planted below the window to deter burglars. Berberis species are good as barrier and hedges.

Barberries (Berberis thunbergii)Barberries (Berberis thunbergii)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2006-10-22Berberis03-02.jpg
authorshipWildfeuer
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Barberries (Berberis linearifolia)Barberries (Berberis linearifolia)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berberis_linearifolia0.jpg
authorshipKurt Stueber
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Barberries (Berberis trifoliolata)Barberries (Berberis trifoliolata)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berberis_trifoliolata_fruit.jpg
authorshipStan Shebs
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Barberries (Berberis wilsoniae)Barberries (Berberis wilsoniae)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berberis_wilsoniae_branch.jpg
authorshipCarstor
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 Index of 690 Plants in The Flowering Garden





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