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Berberis darwinii shoot with flowers
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Berberidaceae

See text

The Berberidaceae are a family of 18 genera of flowering plants commonly called the barberry family. This family is in the order Ranunculales. The family contains about 700 known species,[1] of which the majority are in the genus Berberis. The species include trees, shrubs and perennial herbaceous plants.


The APG IV system of 2016 recognises the family and places it in the order Ranunculales in the clade eudicots.[2]

In some older treatments of the family, Berberidaceae only included four genera (Berberis, Epimedium, Mahonia, Vancouveria), with the other genera treated in separate families, Leonticaceae (Bongardia, Caulophyllum, Gymnospermium, Leontice), Nandinaceae (Nandina), and Podophyllaceae (Achlys, Diphylleia, Dysosma, Jeffersonia, Podophyllum, Ranzania, Sinopodophyllum).

Mahonia is very closely related to Berberis, and included in it by many botanists. However, recent DNA-based phylogenetic research has reinstated Mahonia, though with a handful of species transferred into the newly described genera Alloberberis (formerly Mahonia section Horridae) and Moranothamnus (formerly Mahonia claireae).[3] Species of Mahonia and Berberis can be hybridised, with the hybrids being classified in the genus × Mahoberberis.[4][5]

Diphyllaea is closely related to or perhaps embedded within Podophyllum. Instead of the current trend to subdivide Podophyllum into three genera (Podophyllum, plus Dysosma and Sinopodophyllum), inclusion of Diphyllaea in a larger Podophyllum is equally warranted.

Genera are displayed in the following cladogram

Alloberberis C. C. Yu & K. F. Chung

Berberis L. including Mahonia Nutt. — barberry


Ranzania T. Itô (Japan)

Nandina Thunb. — heavenly bamboo (eastern Asia from the Himalaya to Japan)

Caulophyllum Michx. — blue cohosh

Gymnospermium Spach

Bongardia C. A. Mey.

Achlys DC. — vanilla-leaf

Diphylleia Michx. (southern Appalachian mountains, northern Japan, and China)

Dysosma (China)

Podophyllum L. — mayapple (North America and Asia)

Sinopodophyllum (Afghanistan, Bhutan, northern India, Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, and western China)

Epimedium L.

Vancouveria Morren & Decne. — inside-out flower (western U.S.)

Jeffersonia W. Bartram — twinleaf

Plagiorhegma Maxim.

Leontice L. (Middle East to Central and Western Asia)



  1. ^ CHRISTENHUSZ, MAARTEN J.M.; BYNG, JAMES W. (2016-05-20). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1. ISSN 1179-3163.
  2. ^ The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016-05-01). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 181 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1111/boj.12385. ISSN 1095-8339.
  3. ^ Yu, Chih-Chieh; Chung, Kuo-Fang (2017-12-22). "Why Mahonia? Molecular recircumscription of Berberis s.l., with the description of two new genera, Alloberberis and Moranothamnus". Taxon. 66 (6): 1371–1392. doi:10.12705/666.6.
  4. ^ "Plants Profile for Mahoberberis". USDA PLANTS. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  5. ^ "Puccinia graminis (stem rust of cereals)". Invasive Species Compendium. Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International. 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2020-11-17.

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