A bush usually 6 to 10 ft high, of erect, stiff habit, partially evergreen in ordinary seasons, but losing most or all of its leaves during winters of unusual severity. Leaves leathery, even hard in texture, produced in tufts in the axils of stiff triple spines, or (near the end of the shoots) simple spines. Each leaf is 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, obovate or oblong, tapered at the base to a short stalk, spine-tipped but otherwise quite entire, glabrous. Flowers solitary on stalks 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, amber yellow; one or two flowers spring from each tuft of leaves. Fruit globular or orange-shaped, dark purple. Bot. Mag., t. 6505.
An old inhabitant of gardens, having been introduced about 1826 by Anderson, the botanical collector attached to Capt. King’s expedition to survey the Magellan Straits. Seeds were sent to Low’s nursery at Clapton, and a plant flowered there in 1831. It is the first of the true barberries to flower, its blossoms appearing early in April, sometimes in March. The berries are said to be used for conserves, etc., in Chile, where it extends from Tierra del Fuego to the latitude of Santiago; it is also found in Argentina. A fine example grew in the garden at Monreith, 13 ft high and 28 ft through.
cv. ‘Aureo-marginata’. – Leaves edged with golden yellow.
cv. ‘nana’. – a curious dwarf form of tufted habit, producing a thick mass of weak, unarmed stems rarely more than 18 in. high; leaves larger, rounder than in the type; flowers rarely seen. Described by Carrière in Rev. Hort., 1867, p. 260, as B. dulcis nana.