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Berberis manipurana Ahrendt

Modern name

Berberis manipurana Ahrendt

(for synonyms see below)

An evergreen shrub to 6 ft or somewhat more high, of mounded habit; stems grooved and slightly angled, yellowish brown when mature. Spines three-branched, up to 1[1/4] in. long, grooved beneath. Leaves fairly rigid, upper surface medium green, slightly lustrous, finely reticulate and with a pronounced ring-vein formed from the loops uniting adjacent lateral veins, underside paler green and glossy, with raised main veins but obscure reticulation; they are elliptic to oblong-lanceolate, acute, up to about 3[1/2] in. long and 1 in. wide, with six to ten short spine-teeth on each side. Flowers in May, rich yellow, about [3/8] in. wide on pedicels [1/2] in. or slightly more long, produced in clusters emerging from one to three separate buds on each spur and up to fifteen or so in all in each compound cluster. Ovules normally five. Fruits about [3/8] in. long, ellipsoid, purplish black and bloomy; stigma sessile.

Native of Manipur in north-east India and perhaps of the Himalaya; discovered by Sir George Watt in 1882 and introduced by him. It was originally distributed as B. wallichiana latifolia, a name later erroneously altered to B. hookeri latifolia. According to Dr Ahrendt, it was also grown as ‘B. knightii’, a name originally given to a quite different plant of South American provenance, and was also confused with the Javanese B. xanthoxylon. However, the horticultural synonym which has gained widest currency in recent times is ‘B. julianae’. It is really quite distinct from that Chinese species, and the confusion no doubt arose from the fact that B. julianae was at one time, like B. manipurana, identified as B. xanthoxylon.

B. manipurana is apparently closely related to the little-known Himalayan B. wallichiana, but this, according to Ahrendt, has only one ovule in each ovary. It is perhaps the handsomest of the evergreen Asiatic barberries, vigorous and leafy, and with ornamental flowers. It is hardy near London in a position sheltered from cold winds.



Other species in the genus