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Berberis






BERBERIS AQUIFOLIUM (_syn Mahonia Aquifolium_).--Holly-leaved

Barberry. North America, 1823. This justly ranks as one of the

handsomest, most useful, and easily-cultivated of all hardy shrubs.

It will grow almost any where, and in any class of soil, though

preferring a fairly rich loam. Growing under favourable conditions to

a height of 6 feet, this North American shrub forms a dense mass of

almost impenetrable foliage. The leaves are large, dark shining green,

thickly beset with spines, while the deliciously-scented yellow

flowers, which are produced at each branch tip, render the plant

particularly attractive in spring. It is still further valuable both

on account of the rich autumnal tint of the foliage, and pretty plum

colour of the plentifully produced fruit.



B. AQUIFOLIUM REPENS (_syn Mahonia repens_).--Creeping Barberry. This

is of altogether smaller growth than the preceding, but otherwise they

seem nearly allied. From its dense, dwarf growth, rising as it rarely

does more than a foot from the ground, and neat foliage, this Barberry

is particularly suitable for edging beds, or forming a low evergreen

covering for rocky ground or mounds.



B. ARISTATA, a native of Nepaul, is a vigorous-growing species,

resembling somewhat our native plant, with deeply serrated leaves,

brightly tinted bark, and yellow flowers. It is of erect habit,

branchy, and in winter is rendered very conspicuous by reason of the

bright reddish colour of the leafless branches.



B. BEALEI (_syn Mahonia Bealli_).--Japan. This species is one of the

first to appear in bloom, often by the end of January the plant being

thickly studded with flowers. It is a handsome shrub, of erect habit,

the leaves of a yellowish-green tint, and furnished with long, spiny

teeth. The clusters of racemes of deliciously fragrant yellow flowers

are of particular value, being produced so early in the season.



B. BUXIFOLIA (_syn B. dulcis_ and _B. microphylla_).--Straits of

Magellan, 1827. A neat and erect-growing shrub of somewhat stiff and

upright habit, and bearing tiny yellow flowers. This is a good

rockwork plant, and being of neat habit, with small purplish leaves,

is well worthy of cultivation.



B. CONGESTIFLORA, from Chili, is not yet well-known, but promises to

become a general favourite with lovers of hardy shrubs. It is of

unusual appearance for a Barberry, with long, decumbent branches,

which are thickly covered with masses of orange-yellow flowers. The

branch-tips, being almost leafless and smothered with flowers, impart

to the plant a striking, but distinctly ornamental appearance.



B. DARWINII.--Chili, 1849. This is, perhaps, the best known and most

ornamental of the family. It forms a dense bush, sometimes 10 feet

high, with dark glossy leaves, and dense racemes of orange-yellow

flowers, produced in April and May, and often again in the autumn.



B. EMPETRIFOLIA.--Straits of Magellan, 1827. This is a neat-habited

and dwarf evergreen species, that even under the best cultivation

rarely exceeds 2 feet in height. It is one of the hardiest species,

and bears, though rather sparsely, terminal golden-yellow flowers,

which are frequently produced both in spring and autumn. For its

compact growth and neat foliage it is alone worthy of culture.



B. FORTUNEI (_syn Mahonia Fortunei_).--China, 1846. This is rather a

rare species in cultivation, with finely toothed leaves, composed of

about seven leaflets, and bearing in abundance clustered racemes of

individually small yellow flowers. A native of China, and requiring a

warm, sunny spot to do it justice.



B. GRACILIS (_syn Mahonia gracilis_).--Mexico. A pretty, half-hardy

species, growing about 6 feet high, with slender branches, and

shining-green leaves with bright red stalks. Flowers small, in 3-inch

long racemes, deep yellow with bright red pedicels. Fruit globular,

deep purple.



B. ILICIFOLIA (_syn B. Neumanii_).--South America, 1791. This is

another handsome evergreen species from South America, and requires

protection in this country. The thick, glossy-green leaves, beset with

spines, and large orange-red flowers, combine to make this species one

of great interest and beauty.



B. JAPONICA (_syn Mahonia japonica_).--Japan. This is not a very

satisfactory shrub in these isles, although in warm seaside districts,

and when planted in rich loam, on a gravelly subsoil, it forms a

handsome plant with noble foliage, and deliciously fragrant yellow

flowers.



B. NEPALENSIS (_syn Mahonia nepalensis_).--Nepaul Barberry. This is a

noble Himalayan species that one rarely sees in good condition in this

country, unless when protected by glass. The long, chalky-white stems,

often rising to 8 feet in height, are surmounted by dense clusters of

lemon-yellow flowers. Planted outdoors, this handsome and partly

evergreen Barberry must have the protection of a wall.



B. NERVOSA (_syn Mahonia glumacea_).--North America, 1804. This, with

its terminal clusters of reddish-yellow flowers produced in spring, is

a highly attractive North-west American species. It is of neat and

compact growth, perfectly hardy, but as yet it is rare in cultivation.

The autumnal leafage-tint is very attractive.



B. PINNATA (_syn Mahonia facicularis_).--A native of Mexico, this

species is of stout growth, with long leaves, that are thickly

furnished with sharp spines. The yellow flowers are produced

abundantly, and being in large bunches render the plant very

conspicuous. It is, unfortunately, not very hardy, and requires wall

protection to do it justice.



B. SINENSIS.--China, 1815. This is a really handsome and distinct

species, with twiggy, deciduous branches, from the undersides of the

arching shoots of which the flowers hang in great profusion. They are

greenish-yellow inside, but of a dark brownish-crimson without, while

the leaves are small and round, and die off crimson in autumn.



B. STENOPHYLLA, a hybrid between B. Darwinii and B. empetrifolia, is

one of the handsomest forms in cultivation, the wealth of

golden-yellow flowers being remarkable, as is also the dark purple

berries. It is very hardy, and of the freest growth.



B. TRIFOLIOLATA (_syn Mahonia trifoliolata_).--Mexico, 1839. This is a

very distinct and beautiful Mexican species that will only succeed

around London as a wall plant. It grows about a yard high, with leaves

fully 3 inches long, having three terminal sessile leaflets, and

slender leaf stalks often 2 inches long. The ternate leaflets are of a

glaucous blue colour, marbled with dull green, and very delicately

veined. Flowers small, bright yellow, and produced in few-flowered

axillary racemes on short peduncles. The berries are small, globular,

and light red.



B. TRIFURCA (_syn Mahonia trifurca_).--China, 1852. This is a shrub of

neat low growth, but it does not appear to be at all plentiful.



B. VULGARIS.--Common Barberry. This is a native species, with oblong

leaves, and terminal, drooping racemes of yellow flowers. It is

chiefly valued for the great wealth of orange-scarlet fruit. There are

two very distinct forms, one bearing silvery and the other black

fruit, and named respectively B. vulgaris fructo-albo and B. vulgaris

fructo-nigro.



B. WALLICHIANA (_syn B. Hookeri_).--Nepaul, 1820. This is exceedingly

ornamental, whether as regards the foliage, flowers, or fruit. It is

of dense, bushy growth, with large, dark green spiny leaves, and an

abundance of clusters of clear yellow flowers. The berries are deep

violet-purple, and fully half-an-inch long. Being perfectly hardy and

of free growth it is well suited for extensive planting.






Next: Berchemia

Previous: Berberidopsis



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