Berberis haematocarpa

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Berberis haematocarpa
Berberis haematocarpa shoot
Berberis haematocarpa flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Berberidaceae
Genus: Berberis
Species: B. haematocarpa
Binomial name
Berberis haematocarpa

Mahonia haematocarpa (Woot.) Fedde
Berberis nevinii var. haematocarpa (Wooton) L. D. Benson

Berberis haematocarpa, Woot.[1] with the common names red barberry, red Mexican barbery, Colorado barberry and Mexican barberry, is a species in the Barberry family in southwestern North America. [2] It is also sometimes called algerita,[3] but that name is more often applied to its relative, Mahonia trifoliolata.


The shrub is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico at elevations of 900–2,300 metres (3,000–7,500 ft). [3] It grows on rocky slopes and canyons of mountains, in Pinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, and desert chaparral. [3] It is found on slopes and mesas in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Sonora. [2] It is also native to sky island habitats of the Mojave Desert in California and southwestern Nevada. [4]


Berberis haematocarpa is a shrub growing up to 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) tall, with stiff and erect branches. [3]

It has thick, rigid pinnate leaves of several centimeters long. Each is made up of a few thick 3-7 lance-shaped leaflets with very spiny toothed edges. They are a glaucus whitish-gray in color, due to a thick cuticle of wax.[3]

The inflorescences bear 3 to 5 bright yellow flowers, each with nine sepals and six petals all arranged in whorls of three. [3] The plant blooms from February to June. [5]

The fruit is a juicy, edible deep red to purplish-red berry, spherical and up to 8 mm (0.31 in) across. [3][6][7]


The compound leaves place this species in the group sometimes segregated as the genus Mahonia, and classified as Mahonia haematocarpa. [8] [9] [7][10][11][12]


Native Americans of the Apache tribe used the plant's wood shavings for a yellow dye and as a traditional eye medicine, and it's fresh and preserved fruit for food. [13]


  1. ^ Wooton, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 25: 304. 1898.
  2. ^ a b NPGS/GRIN information for Berberis haematocarpa
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Flora of North America @ Berberis haematocarpa
  4. ^ Jepson eFlora (TJM2) treatment of Berberis haematocarpa[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (NPIN): Mahonia haematocarpa (Red barberry, Algerita, Red Oregon-grape)
  6. ^ Laferriere, J.E. Berberidaceae, Barberry Family. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 26:2-4. 1992.
  7. ^ a b Flora of North America vol 3.
  8. ^ USDA: Mahonia haematocarpa
  9. ^ NatureServe Comprehensive Species Report — Mahonia haematocarpa (Woot.) Fedde[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Loconte, H., & J. R. Estes. 1989. Phylogenetic systematics of Berberidaceae and Ranunculales (Magnoliidae). Systematic Botany 14:565-579.
  11. ^ Marroquín, Jorge S., & Joseph E. Laferrière. 1997. Transfer of specific and infraspecific taxa from Mahonia to Berberis. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 30(1):53-55.
  12. ^ Laferrière, Joseph E. 1997. Transfer of specific and infraspecific taxa from Mahonia to Berberis. Bot. Zhurn. 82(9):96-99.
  13. ^ University of Michigan at Dearborn: Native American Ethnobotany of Berberis haematocarpa

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