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Latin Name


Common Name(s)

The family is most commonly referred to as "Berberis". Some common names of plants within this family are called Nandina, Barrenwort, Oregon Grape, Podophyllum, the Skeleton flower, Diphylleia, Jeffersonia, and several more species also belong to this family.

Plant Family


Plant Description (Height/Habit/General Characteristics)

  • Height: Can range anywhere from 1-5 meters (3.3-16.4 feet) in height. Its shoots are short, and range anywhere from 1-2 millimeters (0.039-0.079 inches).


  • Both Berberis vulgaris and Berberis canadensis act as a host for the wheat rust fungus (Pareulype berberata).

General Characteristics

  • Some species, such as Berberis thumbergii, are invasive species.
  • It is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs.
  • Found throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world, except for Australia.
  • It holds the greatest diversity in South America, Africa, and Asia.
  • Many of the species have spines on their shoots.
  • Many of these species, such as Berberis thunburgii, have an attractive pink or red autumn color to their flowers.
  • Several species of berberis are grown in collector's gardens due to the plants ornamental leaves.

Berberis 102.jpg

Leaf Description

They are non-photosynthetic, and developed into one to three or more spines. They can range from 3-30mm long, and the bud in the axil of each thorn leaf develops a short shoot in which several normal photosynthetic leaves occur.

Flower Description

The flowers can come in a variety of a range of six different colors. White, pink, red, dark red, violet, and yellow. These flowers can either be produced singly or in racemes of up to 20 on a single flower-head.

Other Information

  • They are utilized as a dietary supplement for some species in the Lepidoptera family.
  • Some low growing species of berberis are used as means to ward off pedestrian.
  • Some species such as "B. glaucocarpa", and "B. darwinii" in New Zealand have become invasive species due to them being planted outside of their native ranges.
  • Some of the species that grow in Europe actually produce edible berries that are bountiful in vitamin-c.

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • whorled branching pattern.
  • A combination of non-photosynthetic leaves with photosynthetic leaves.
  • The plant does not develop flowers until it is 1-2 years old in its gametophyte life cycle.

Collection Location on GGC’s Campus

It can be found on the GGC campus. Located in the forest immediately next to GGC's softball/baseball, and soccer fields.


Can be found in canopy forests, open woodlands, wetlands, pastures, and meadows of temperate and subtropical regions of the world.


This page was created by:

K.c. Okebalama

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