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Berberis comberi Sprague & Sandw.

Modern name

Berberis comberi Sprague & Sandwith

An evergreen shrub up to 4 ft high, of very stiff habit, increasing by sucker growths so that eventually one plant may become as much as 12 ft across; young shoots spineless, grey, glabrous. Leaves holly-like, stout, stiff, leathery, ovate-orbicular to oval, armed with two to six large triangular spine-tipped teeth and a terminal one; 34 to 112 in. long, 12 to 114 in. wide; perfectly glabrous, grey-green, or on young plants glaucous at first, becoming green and glossy by autumn; veins prominent beneath, especially the two lowest ones; leaf-stalk on seedling young plants 14 in. long, much shorter on adult ones, distinctly jointed. Flowers apparently usually solitary in the leaf-axils, each on a stalk about 110 in. long bearing several scales; about 12 in. wide, orange-yellow, fragrant. Sepals, petals, and stamens five.

Native of the Argentine Andes at 3,000 ft altitude; discovered in 1925 by H. F. Comber on the Cerro Lotena, and introduced by him. He records that it flowers profusely. It is a very distinct species, first in having no spines on the branchlets, their place being taken by foliage leaves, the short shoots in their axils being mostly without leaves and bearing flowers only; secondly in the parts of the flower being in fives (not the normal sixes). In general appearance it is also very distinct. Comber collected it in flower in the latter end of September, equivalent to our early April. He found it as a ‘low-growing shrub 1 to 4 ft high in sheltered and exposed places on sandy, stony, and shaly soils’. The stamens, as in other barberries, are sensitive.



Other species in the genus