Berberis microphylla

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Calafate Flower

Berberis microphylla
Calafate-Berberis buxifolia.jpg
Calafate (Berberis microphylla)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Berberidaceae
Genus: Berberis
B. microphylla
Binomial name
Berberis microphylla
  • Berberis antucoana C.K.Schneid.
  • Berberis barilochensis Job
  • Berberis buxifolia Lam.
  • Berberis cristata (Lam.) Lavallée
  • Berberis cuneata DC.
  • Berberis dulcis Sweet nom. illeg.
  • Berberis heterophylla Juss. ex Poir.
  • Berberis inermis Pers.
  • Berberis magellanica Dippel
  • Berberis marginata Gay
  • Berberis minor J.R.Forst. ex DC.
  • Berberis morenonis Kuntze
  • Berberis parodii Job
  • Berberis rotundifolia Lindl. nom. illeg.
  • Berberis spinosa Comm. ex Decne.
  • Berberis spinosissima (Reiche) Ahrendt
  • Berberis tricuspidata Sm. ex DC.
Fruits in spring

Berberis microphylla, common name box-leaved barberry[2] and Magellan barberry,[3] in Spanish calafate and michay and other names,[4] is an evergreen shrub, with simple, shiny box-like leaves. The calafate is native to southern Argentina and Chile and is a symbol of Patagonia.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

The bush grows to a height of 1.0 to 1.5 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 11 in). It has many arching branches, each covered in many tripartite spines. The bush has many small yellow flowers in summer. Its edible blue-black berries are harvested for jams, but are eaten fresh too - a legend tells that anyone who eats a calafate berry will be certain to return to Patagonia.[11]

The calafate is grown commercially for its fruit, potential medical uses[3] and as a garden plant or bonsai. Its wood is used to make a red dye. The cultivar Berberis microphylla 'Nana' is widely available as a garden shrub, and is also used in commercial plantings as a low spiny hedge to discourage intruders, but it does not fruit.[12]

Berberis microphylla should not be confused with Mahonia microphylla, native to China.[13]


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 3 January 2016
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ a b Plants for a Future entry for Berberis buxifolia Lam., retrieved 3 January 2016
  4. ^ Berberis microphylla at FrutasdelBosque (in Spanish)
  5. ^ Ahrendt, L. W. A. (1961). Berberis and Mahonia. A taxonomic revision. J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 57(369): 1–410.
  6. ^ Landrum, L. R. 1999 [2000]. Revision of Berberis (Berberidaceae) in Chile and adjacent southern Argentina. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 86(4): 793–834.
  7. ^ Hoffmann, A. (1982). Flora silvestre de Chile zona araucana. Edición 4. Ediciones Fundación Claudio Gay, Santiago, Chile. 258p.
  8. ^ Landrum, L. R. (2003). Berberidaceae. En C. Marticorena y R. Rodríguez [eds.], Flora de Chile Vol. 2(2), pp 1–23. Universidad de Concepción, Concepción.
  9. ^ Marticorena, C. & M. Quezada. (1985). Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Chile. Gayana, Bot. 42: 1–157.
  10. ^ Zuloaga, F. O. (1997). Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de la Argentina. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 74(1–2): 1–1331.
  11. ^ "El que come calafate ha de volver". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  12. ^ "Berberis heterophylla". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved November 17, 2007.
  13. ^ Flora of China Vol. 19 Page 778 小叶十大功劳 xiao ye shi da gong lao Mahonia microphylla T. S. Ying & G. R. Long

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