A deciduous shrub 4 ft or more high, with erect, grooved branchlets covered when young with a short, dark down. Leaves dark glossy green, clustered in the axils of stiff spines, which are sometimes single, but usually three- or five-branched, and up to 1⁄2 in. long; the leaves are obovate, or narrowly wedge-shaped, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, leathery, narrowing at the base to a very short stalk or none at all, the apex either rounded or pointed, often terminating in a short tooth; the slightly curled back margins are either entire, or have one to three spiny teeth at each side. Flowers solitary, on downy stalks 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, or on short two- to four-flowered racemes; orange-yellow, globose, 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 in. across; outer sepals narrow oblong, inner ones twice as wide; petals obovate. Fruit elliptical, 2⁄3 in. long, scarlet. Bot. Mag., t. 7071.
Native of N. India; first discovered in Kumaon early in the nineteenth century, and in 1849 by Hooker in the Sikkim-Himalaya, at 11,000 to 13,000 ft. It is absolutely hardy at Kew, and although not one of the showiest barberries, is noteworthy for its unusually large flowers and berries. The latter are eatable, and, being less acid, are more palatable than most barberries.
B. capillaris Ahrendt B. ludlowii var. capillaris (Ahrendt) Ahrendt – Closely allied to the preceding, but with the leaves grey-green above, grey beneath, the fruit narrower and the pedicels glabrous. Collected by Farrer in Burma in 1919 and, although named shortly afterwards, not described until 1941. Farrer’s companion on that journey, Mr E. H. M. Cox, tells us that the species has been a failure in his garden in E. Perthshire. But in a milder climate it might make an attractive shrub, for, as Mr Cox wrote in Farrer’s Last Journey, ‘It is noticeable for the large size of the solitary flowers. They are rich yellow in colour and about the size of a shilling, while the fruit is scarlet and nearly as large as a cherry.’
B. parisepala Ahrendt – This species differs only in minor botanical characters from B. angulosa, but grows taller and has a more easterly distribution in the Himalaya. It is in cultivation from Kingdon Ward’s No. 8350, collected in the Mishmi Hills. The material for the plate in the Botanical Magazine (n.s., t. 119) was taken from a plant in the late Sir Frederick Stern’s garden at Highdown. It breaks into leaf very late in the spring.