Berberidaceae Juss.

First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 286. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)nom. cons.
This family is accepted

Descriptions

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Morphology General Habit
Shrubs or rarely small trees, often spiny, up to 10 m, mostly glabrous or sometimes with tomentose stems and pedicels
Morphology General Spines
Spines (the reduced leaves of long shoots) palmate to leafy, simple or 3- parted
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate, along the stem or often in rosettes, simple (always in South America) or 1-odd-pinnately compound; petioles usually present Blades (simple leaves or leaflets) narrowly elliptic, oblanceolate, obovate, or orbiculate, 1-8 cm, sometimes articulate at base with the petiole or rachis, margins entire or spinose-toothed; venation pinnate or 3-6-veined from base, blade surface sometimes pruinose (with powdery surface) below
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences terminal, usually racemes, rarely umbels or flowers solitary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 3- merous, generally less than 10 mm, yellow to orange, sometimes tinged with red, the perianth petaloid composed of 3 to 6 whorls; bracteoles caducous, 3, scale-like; the two inner whorls are nectariferous with two darker glands visible at the lower inner surface; stamens 6; anthers almost as long as the filaments, dehiscing by valves, sometimes with small tooth-like appendages at base of the anther; ovary superior, barrel-shaped, 1-celled; placentation basal, up to 10 seeds; style very short to elongate; stigma large
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a berry, spheric to cylindrical, ovoid or ellipsoid, less than 1 cm, reddish-brown turning dark purple to black, sometimes pruinose, usually juicy
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 1 to few, tan to red-brown or black; aril absent.
Note
Number of genera: One genus: Berberis (incl. Mahonia). Berberis is easy to recognize at generic level, however species are sometimes difficult to delimit especially due to the great variation in leaf size and shape and the great number of species described. Berberin (an alkaloid) is used as a dye (yellow). Fruits are eaten locally in jams. Notes on delimitation: One genus: Berberis L.(includes Mahonia Nutt.), diverse worldwide in the Northern hemisphere, in the Western hemisphere it reaches South America along the Andes, extending to Tierra del Fuego and east to southeastern Brazil.
Diagnostic
Spiny shrubs, with yellow wood. Leaves coriaceous, with spiny margins, often with an articulation at the base of the blade with the petiole. Flowers less than 10 mm long, yellow to orange, perianth petaloid with various whorls. Fruits small drupes, less than 1 cm, reddish-brown when young and turning deep purple black at maturity, often pruinose. Common in páramos and punas. Distinguishing characters (always present): Wood bright yellow (presence of Berberin). Spiny shrubs with spiny leaves. Perianthpetaloid with various whorls, yellow to orange; the two inner whorls with nectaries at the base.
Distribution
Native. Shrubs are often found in open, disturbed areas, rarely inside the forest. Berberis: restricted in the Neotropics to mountain regions, generally above 2000 m in Mexico, Central America, the Andes, and southeastern Brazil. Simple leaved species occur throughout the range. Species with compound leaves (previously referred as Mahonia) only occur from Mexico to Costa Rica and do not reach South America.
[NTK]

Berberidaceae, H. Wild. Flora Zambesiaca 1:1. 1960

Morphology General Habit
Shrubs or herbs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate or radical, simple or compound
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules usually absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers bisexual, in panicles, racemes, fascicles or solitary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals and petals similar or dissimilar, in 2 to several series, free, hypogynous, imbricate or the outer valvate, caducous, rarely absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens 4–9, opposite the petals, hypogynous, free; anthers 2-thecous, opening lengthwise or by valves
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Ovary 1 -locular; ovules few, ascending, or more rarely numerous; style short or absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a berry, achene or capsule
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds with copious endosperm and small or long embryo; cotyledons short
[FZ]

Berberidaceae, R. M. Polhill. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1966

Morphology General Habit
Shrubs or herbs, the latter often with tubers or rhizomes
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate or radical, simple or compound; stipules absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers variously arranged in panicles, racemes, clusters or solitary, regular, hermaphrodite
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals and petals usually similar, in 2-several series, hypogynous, free, imbricate or the outer valvate, rarely absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens 4–9, opposite the petals, hypogynous, free; anthers 2-thecous, opening by longitudinal slits or valves
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Style short or absent Ovary 1-locular; ovules basal or ventral, anatropous, few or sometimes numerous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a berry, achene or capsule
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds with copious endosperm; embryo small or long
[FTEA]

Gemma Bramley, Anna Trias-Blasi & Richard Wilford (2023). The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook. Kew Publishing Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Recognition
Characters of similar families: Cistaceae: leaves usually opposite, flower parts 3 or 5. Clethraceae: flowers 5-merous, sepals sometimes fused. Papaveraceae: often with white, yellow or watery latex, 2 sepals. Rhamnaceae: flowers 4- or 5-merous with a hypanthium or calyx tube.
Morphology General Habit
Woody shrubs or perennial herbs with rhizomes or tubers
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules usually absent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves spiral, rarely opposite, sometimes evergreen and persistent, simple to pinnately or ternately compound and in Berberis often transformed into spines
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, in racemes, spikes, umbels, cymes, panicles or flowers solitary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers bisexual and actinomorphic; perianth free, whorled, sometimes absent (Achlys); sepals 6–9, petaloid in 2–3 whorls; petals usually 6 and bearing nectaries or reduced to nectariferous sacs or scales; stamens mostly in 2 whorls, opposite petals, usually 6, rarely 4 (Epimedium) or 9–18 (Podophyllum); anthers open by lengthwise slits (Nandina and Podophyllum) or by valves hinged at the top; ovary superior with a single carpel, style terminal, often persistent, rarely stigma sessile
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a berry (Nandina, Berberis and Podophyllum), capsule (Bongardia, Leontice, Epimedium and Vancouveria), follicle or utricle with 1–many seeds.
Distribution
13 genera and 769 species. Worldwide in temperate regions and on tropical mountains.
Note
Stems with or without spines. Perianth free, multiseriate; sepals 6–9, petal-like in 2–3 whorls; petals 6, hooded, pouched or spurred; stamens 6; anthers open by valves or slits.
Description Author
Renata Borosova
[KTEMP-FIH]

Uses

Use
Used in horticulture, some species have fruits that are high in vitamin C and that are used in cooking or made into preserves.
[KTEMP-FIH]

Sources

  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Neotropikey

    • Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook

    • The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0