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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 330. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 6/2/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 6/3/2011)
General/Distribution: A large genus with nearly 400 species, mostly in Asia, America and the Mediterranean region; represented in Pakistan by 20 species, distributed in the mountainous parts. Several species are well-known as alternate hosts for Rust fungi, especially of wheat and some other cereals.
Comment/Acknowledgements: A difficult genus due to variable nature of its many species, probably affected by environment and hybridization. Overlapping of characters, especially in leaves, stem colour, flower and berry size etc. are not lacking in our several closely related species. Leaf texture, serrations etc. are said to vary from season to season and with the age of the plant in some of our species (Parker, l.c.). Fruits may be red when immature but turn black or dark-blue with maturity. Gregarious or sporadic distribution, evergreen or deciduous habit, fruit colour etc. cannot be ascertained from a dried herbarium specimen unless a comprehensive field note is provided. Among our species, many closely related groups of species, such as, Berberis lyceum Royle, Berberis parkeriana Schneid. Berberis huegeliane Schneid., Berberis afghanica Schneid and Berberis brevissima Jafri with pale stem, often minutely puberulous or glandulose young stems, pruinose or green undersurface of leaves, red or blue berries, need experimental studies. Same is the case with the polymorphic Berberis calliobotrys Aitch. ex Koehne. Ahrendt made comprehensive studies on the genus in several cases but he had very few specimens from our area. No doubt he compared herbarium specimens and living ones grown at Kew and other places, but still some of our species, described by him, are based just on a single specimen. From the small number of herbarium specimens at my disposal, I find quite a number of integrading forms between some of the species. Looking into the range of variation the descriptions provided by Ahrendt for some of our species are quite inadequate.


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Shrubs, often evergreen and armed, gregarious or sporadic, usually with yellow wood; stem or branches red-brown to pale or whitish, sulcate to almost smooth. Leaves on long shoots usually modified into 1-3(-7)-partite spines; those on the short (dwarf) shoots (in the axils of spines) normal, usually obovate to oblong-elliptic, often crowded, margin denticulate-spinulose to entire, petiolate to sessile. Inflorescence short, on lateral branches, racemiform, umbellate, fascicled or panicled, rarely 1 or few-flowered, often deflexed or hanging (especially in fruit). Prophylls (bracteoles) often present, 3, appressed to the calyx, lanceolate. Flowers yellow to orange, 3-merous pedicellate. Perianth segments usually in 3 whorls subequal to unequal; outer 2 whorls forming the sepals; inner whorl forming the petals, each beset with 2 basal glands. Stamens (4-) 6, usually shorter than petals, sensitive (and springing inwards when touched); anthers dehiscing by ascending, upcurved valves, connectives produced or not. Ovary 1-carpellate, oblong to ellipsoid, 1-locular, (1-)2-6(-15, very rarely more)-ovuled on basal placenta; ovules anatropous; stigma usually broad or peltate, sessile or subsessile, sometimes on distinct style. Berry ellipsoid, subglobose, ovoid, obovoid to oblong, usually red or bluish-black, with or without bloom (bloom white or blue), usually 2-4 seeded (in our species), juicy, pulpy juicy or pithy; style present (persistent) or absent, not more than 1.5 mm long (in our species); seeds mostly oblong-ellipsoid, pale to dark coloured, usually with angular apices and truncate bases, copiously albuminous with straight embryo.

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1 Spines 3-5(-7)-fid. (Baluchistan)
+ Spines 1-3-fid (occasionally 4-5-fid in the Himalayan B. pachyacantha) (2)
2 (1) Leaves usually broader, with breadth/length Ratio 1(1-) 1.5-4 (-5), more than 3 mm broad Sometimes so narrow in B. brevissima and B. calliobotrys but berries stylose) (3)
+ Leaves very narrow, with breadth/length ratio 1:5-8, only 1-3 (-4) mm broad. (Berries estylose) Berberis ulicina
3 (2) Berries 3-5 mm long, globose (stylose). Leaves 10-20 mm long, 3-6 mm broad (sometimes so in B. calliobotrys but stems dark-red) Berberis brevissima
+ Berries (6-) 7-12 mm long, (4-) 5-9 mm broad (stylose or estylose). Leaves (1-) 1.5-5 (-10) cm long (3-) 7-40 mm broad (4)
4 (3) Inflorescence racemose, fascicled, umbellate or subumbellate (occasionally panicled below or irregularly) or a congested, irregular panicle, usually less than 6 cm long (sometimes longer in B. pachyacantha but simple racemose) (5)
+ Inflorescence a many flowered, loose regular panicle, (6-)10-15 (-17) cm long, with flowers in groups of threes Berberis chitria
5 (4) Style conspicuous or significant, (0.5-)1-1.5 mm long (rarely inconspicuous in B. kashmirana) (6)
+ Style inconspicuous or insignificant (rarely up to 0.5 mm long) (13)
6 (5) Stems usually pale or pale yellowish (7)
+ Stems usually dark-red or red-brown (11)
7 (6) Stems (especially younger) minutely puberulous (8)
+ Stems glabrous (sometimes verruculose, slightly rough) (10)
8 (7) Ovules 1-2, stipitate. Berries red; style c. 0.5 mm long (in flower) Berberis huegeliana
+ Ovules 5, sessile, Berries black pruinose; style 1 mm long (9)
9 (8) Leaves usually green to brownish or pale (rarely pruinose-white) below. Berries 8-9 mm long, 6-7 mm broad, black-blue Berberis parkeriana
+ Leaves conspicuously pruinose-white below. Berries 7-8 mm long, 4.5-5 mm broad, heavily pruinose Berberis lycium
10 (7) Style 1 mm long. Berries black, pruinose-white, c. 7 mm broad oblong-globose. Racemes 15-25-flowered; pedicels 5-10 mm long, stout Berberis glaucocarpa
+ Style (0.3-) 0.5 mm long, Berries oblong-ellipsoid, dark-red, epruinose, c. 5 mm broad. Racemes 8-10 (-12)- flowered; pedicels 8-17 mm long, not stout Berberis kashmirana
11 (6) Style 1-1.5 mm long (conspicuous in younger fruits also). Racemes 4-8 (-10)-flowered, subfascicled to subumbellate, 1-2.5(-3) cm long (rarely sparsely panicled). Berries black, pruinose-white Berberis calliobotrys
+ Style 0.5 mm long (usually not prominent in younger fruits). Racemes 10-25-flowered mostly 3-6 cm long (rarely sparsely panicled). Berries black-blue (12)
12 (11) Berries small, c. 6 mm long, 3 mm broad (Baluchistan) Berberis baluchistanica
+ Berries large, 9-10 mm long, 8-9 mm long, 8-9 mm broad. (Kashmir) Berberis stewartiana
13 (5) Stems pale or yellowish (sometimes reddish in B. pacyachantha and B. brandisiana) (14)
+ Stems dark-red or brown-red (sometimes pale in B. kunawurensis and B. psedumbellata) (17)
14 (13) Stems (especially younger) puberulous. Berries black, heavily pruinose. Ovules stipitate Berberis huegeliana
+ Stems glabrous. Berries red or dard-red, epruinose or slightly pruinose. Ovules sessile or stipitate (15)
15 (14) Berries dark-red, neither rigid nor firm. Ovules stipitate Berberis kashmirana
+ Berries red, rigid and firm. Ovules sessile (16)
16 (15) Ovules 4-5. Berries oblong, ovoid or obovoid, 3-5- seeded Berberis brandisiana
+ Ovules 2. Berries oblong to ellipsoid, 1-2-seeded Berberis pachyacantha
17 (13) Stems (especially younger ones) puberulous (18)
+ Stems glabrous (19)
18 (17) Inflorescence subumbellate, 3-5(-8)-flowered Berberis jaeschkeana
+ Inflorescence panicled (occasionally simple), 15-40- flowered Berberis kunawurensis
19 (17) Berries neither rigid nor firm, ovoid, obovoid to subglobose, block, pruinose-blue (20)
+ Berries ± rigid to firm or pithy, oblong to ellipsoid, red or black, often pruinose-white (21)
20 (19) Berries 6 mm long, 3 mm broad, ovoid Berberis baluchistanica
+ Berries 9-10 mm long, 8-9 mm broad, globose-obovoid or subglobose Berberis stewartiana
21 (19) Berries red, oblong-ellipsoid (22)
+ Berries black, pruinose grey or white (23)
22 (21) Ovules 2. Racemes simple, often longer than leaves, 4-10 cm long. leaves usually 3-6 cm long Berberis pachyacantha
+ Ovules 3-5. Racemes racemose-subumbellate or racemose-fascicled, usually 1-3 cm long, hardly longer than leaves. Leaves usually 1-2.5 cm long Berberis orthobotrys
23 (21) Leaves green, epruinose beneath, usually acute, narrowly oblong-obovate. Pedicels 4-8 mm long. Berries 7 mm long, 4.5 mm broad Berberis aitchisonii
+ Leaves usually grey-pruinose beneath with rounded apices, broadly obovate-oblong. Pedicels (5-) 7-10(-18) mm long. Berries 8-10 mm long, (5-) 6-9 mm broad (24)
24 (23) Inflorescence umbellate or subumbellate. Berries subglobose, obovoid to ellipsoid. 9-11 (-12) mm long, 6-9 mm broad. Spines 1(-3)-fid Berberis pseudumbellata
+ Inflorescence subfascicled to racemose. Berries oblong, 8 (-10) mm long, c. 5 mm broad. Spines (1-)3-fid Berberis royleana
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