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Red Fruited Mahonia Back to Plant Page
Berberis haematocarpa

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About Red Fruited Mahonia (Berberis haematocarpa) Berberis haematocarpa, Woot. with the common names red barberry, Colorado barberry, and Mexican barberry, is a species in the Barberry family in southwestern North America. It is also sometimes called algerita, 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). It grows on rocky slopes and canyons of mountains, in Pinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, and desert chaparral. It is found on slopes and mesas in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Sonora. It is also native to sky island habitats of the Mojave Desert in California and southwestern Nevada. Berberis haematocarpa is a shrub growing up to 3-4 metres (9. 8-13. 1 ft) tall, with stiff and erect branches. 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. The inflorescences bear 3 to 5 bright yellow flowers, each with nine sepals and six petals all arranged in whorls of three. The plant blooms from February to June. The fruit is a juicy, edible deep red to purplish-red berry, spherical and up to 8 mm across. Taxonomy. The compound leaves place this species in the group sometimes segregated as the genus Mahonia, and classified as Mahonia haematocarpa. Uses. 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.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
9.8 - 13.1 ft (3 - 4 m)


Flower Color
Yellow, White

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky slopes

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
1731' - 7108'

Annual Precip. ?
5.6" - 10.7"

Summer Precip. ?
1.16" - 2.85"

Coldest Month ?
39.5° F - 54.3° F

Hottest Month ?
63.7° F - 84.0° F

Humidity ?
2.78 vpd - 35.15 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11, 12, 13, 14*, 15*, 16*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23, 24

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. (USDA Forest Service 1974); 3 mos. stratification may improve germination.

Common uses
Bird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Red Barberry, Mexican Barberry, Colorado Barberry

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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