Berberis canadensis Mill.

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Common names:
American barberry, Allegheny barberry
Growth form:
40 cm - 2 m tall.
upright, sparingly branched with long branches and short lateral branchlets, often suckering and forming colonies.
purple to brown, becoming gray, slightly angled, usually with three-pronged spines.
alternate, stalked, dull green, 1.8 - 7.5 cm long, 0.8 - 3.3 cm wide, narrow elliptic to spoon-shaped or narrow and inversely egg-shaped with a rounded to blunt tip, gradually tapering to the base, with three to twelve spine-tipped teeth per side, firm at maturity, more or less covered with a whitish waxy coating (glaucous).
borne three to twelve on a loose inflorescence 2 - 5.5 cm long, subtended by membrane-like bracts with pointed tips. The six yellow petal-like sepals fall soon after flowering, each of the six yellow petals has a notched tip and two basal glands, and each filament lacks a pair of curved lateral teeth.
a red berry, 7 - 10 mm long, egg-shaped or oblong to elliptic, juicy.
Plant Glossary
Similar species:
Berberis aquifolium and Berberis repens both have leathery compound leaves and bluish black berries, and they lack spines and short lateral branchlets. Berberis thunbergii is rounded and densely branched with non-toothed leaves and simple spines. Berberis vulgaris has arching branches, yellow to yellowish red twigs, and more highly toothed leaves (usually 25 or more), but lacks notched petals.
Habitat and ecology:
This species reportedly grew at one location in St. Joseph County in the late 1800s, but was gone by 1914. It no longer appears to exist in the Chicago Region.
Regional occurrence:
This species is an alternate host for Puccinia graminis, which causes stem rust of wheat, barley, oats, and other cereal crops.
Berberis is a Latinized form of the Arabian name for barberry. Canadensis means "from Canada."
name code: BECA2 ; page author: The Morton Arboretum ; page date: 2006-11-22
Further information (external links):
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Rheder, A. 1940. Manual of cultivated trees and shrubs hardy in North America. 2nd Ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
Whittemore, A. T. 1997. Berberis. In Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Vol. 3 of Flora of North America north of Mexico. ed. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 276-286. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Berberis canadensis

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Information provided on this page applies to the Chicago Region and may not be relevant or complete for other regions.