Shrubs evergreen, 1-4.5 m. Stems ± dimorphic, with elongate primary and short or somewhat elongate axillary shoots. Bark of 2d-year stems light brown or grayish purple, glabrous. Bud scales 2-4 mm, deciduous. Spines absent. Leaves 5-9(-11)-foliolate; petioles 0.2-0.8(-3) cm. Leaflet blades thick and rigid; surfaces abaxially dull, papillose, adaxially dull, glaucous; terminal leaflet stalked in most or all leaves, blade 1-2.6(-4) × 0.7-1.8(-2.5) cm, 1-2.5 times as long as wide; lateral leaflet blades elliptic to ovate or orbiculate, 1-3-veined from base, base obtuse or truncate, margins strongly crispate, toothed or lobed, with 2-5 teeth 2-6 mm high tipped with spines to 0.8-2.2 × 0.2-0.3 mm, apex obtuse to acuminate. Inflorescences racemose, lax, 3-6-flowered, 2.5-6.5 cm; bracteoles membranous, apex acuminate. Flowers: anther filaments with distal pair of recurved lateral teeth. Berries yellow or red to brown, ± glaucous, spheric, 12-18 mm, dry, inflated. Flowering spring (Apr-Jun). Slopes and flats in desert grassland and pinyon-juniper woodland; 1100-2400(-3400) m; Ariz., Calif., Colo., Nev., N.Mex., Utah. Berberis fremontii is susceptible to infection by Puccinia graminis . The Apache Indians used Berberis fremontii for ceremonial purposes; the Hopi used it medicinally to heal gums (D. E. Moermann 1986).
Shrubs , evergreen, 1-3 m. Stems ± dimorphic, with elongate primary and short or somewhat elongate axillary shoots. Bark of 2d-year stems brown or purple, glabrous. Bud scales 2-3 mm, deciduous. Spines absent. Leaves 5-7-foliolate (or 3 by abortion of basal pair, leaving prominent articulation on petiole); petioles 0.1-0.4 cm. Leaflet blades thick and rigid; surfaces abaxially dull, papillose, adaxially dull, glaucous; terminal leaflet stalked (sessile in a few leaves), blade 1.4-3.4 × 1.1-2.4 cm, 1-2.5 times as long as wide; lateral leaflet blades oblong to ovate or elliptic, 1-3-veined from base, base obtuse or truncate, margins undulate or crispate, toothed, each with 2-5 teeth 1-4 mm high tipped with spines to 1.2-3 × 0.2-0.3 mm, apex rounded to acute. Inflorescences racemose, lax, 5-8-flowered, 2.5-8 cm; bracteoles membranous, apex acuminate. Berries yellowish red, slightly glaucous, spheric, 6-8 mm, juicy, solid. Flowering spring (Apr-Jun). Chaparral and pinyon-juniper woodland; of conservation concern; 800-1200 m; Calif.; Mexico (Baja California). Berberis higginsiae is endemic to the region immediately south and east of San Diego, California. The leaflet description above fits the few known California collections; specimens with narrower leaflets (terminal leaflets to 4.5 times as long as wide) have been collected just south of the Mexican border, where leaflet shape may be variable on a single specimen. Berberis higginsiae is intermediate between B . fremontii and B . haematocarpa in its variable leaflet shape and berries that are small and juicy but yellowish red. Further study may show that it is conspecific with one of these species (R. V. Moran 1982). Berberis higginsiae is susceptible to infection by Puccinia graminis .
Plant: Shrubs to 3 m tall Leaves: odd-pinnate, 3-10 cm long; leaflets (3-)5-7(-9), thick, rigid, ovate to lanceolate, slightly glaucous, dull gray-green, 10-25 mm long, 5-15 mm wide; veins obscure; teeth of leaflet margin 3-4(-6) pairs, 2-4 mm long, each tooth bearing a spine 1-3 mm long INFLORESCENCE: 3-10 flowered, racemose to subumbellate, 2-7 cm long; pseudopedicels (4-)8-12(-15) mm long; bracts 1-3 mm long; bracteoles 2, ovate, acute, reddish, 1.5 mm long, one appressed to the calyx, the other 4-6 mm below it Flowers: sepals 6 or 9; outer sepals 0.50-1.75 mm long, ovate, subacute, whitish-yellow; inner sepals 6.5-7.0 mm long, obovate, rounded, slenderly clawed; petals 6, 3.5 mm long, the apices entire, the bases scarcely clawed or cuneate with oblong, acute, marginal glands; stamens 4 mm, subtruncate to slightly rounded; filaments with two lateral teeth at apex; ovules 5-8 Fruit: berry, ovoid, yellow, red or blue-black, 1.5 cm long, sometimes becoming more or less dry and inflated at maturity, bearing sessile stigma; SEEDS ellipsoid, dull reddish-purple, 3 mm long Misc: Mts. of n and c AZ; 1200-2150 m (4000-7000 ft); Apr-Jul REFERENCES: Laferrière, Joseph E. 2001. Berberidaceae. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 26(1).
Laferriere 1992, FNA 1997, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: Fremont's mahonia Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Perennial shrub 1-4.5 m tall, evergreen, stems more or less dimorphic, with elongate primary and short to elongate axillary shoots; older bark light brown or grayish purple, spines absent. Leaves: Odd-pinnate, 5-9 leaves on petioles 0.2-0.8 cm, leaflet blades thick, rigid, upper surfaces dull, papillose, below dull and glaucous; blades 1-3 cm by 0.7-2 cm, about 1-2.5 times as wide, lateral leaflets blades elliptic to ovate orbiculate, base obtuse or truncate, margins crispate, toothed or lobed, with 2-5 teeth, tipped with spines. Flowers: Racemose inflorescence, lax, 3-10 flowered, 2-7 cm long, bracts 1-3 mm long, 2 membranous bracteoles, ovate, acute, reddish, 1.5 mm long with an acuminate apex, 6 or 9 sepals, whitish yellow, 0.5-0.75 mm long, ovate, inner sepals 6.5-7 mm long, obovate, slenderly clawed; petals 6, 3.5 mm long, bases scarcely clawed or cuneate with oblong, acute, marginal glands. Fruits: Ovoid, yellow, red or blue-black berries, 1.5 cm. Ecology: Found on slopes and flats, often in association with pi-on-juniper from 4,000-7,000 ft (1219-2134 m); flowers April-June. Notes: Very similar to B. haematocarpa in appearance, they are told apart by B. haematocarpa having the terminal leaflet be much longer. Ethnobotany: Used for ceremonial purposes, used to heal gums, to promote digestion and as a laxative, as a liver aid, a beverage, the berries are edible, the roots were used to make a bright yellow dye, and the wood was used for a variety of things. Etymology: Berberis is the Latinized form of the Arabic name for the fruit, while fremontii is named for the American explorer and politician John C. Fremont (1813-1890). Synonyms: Mahonia fremontii, Berberis higginsiae, Mahonia higginsiae, Odostemon fremontii Editor: SBuckley, 2010