Beale's Barberry, Berberis bealei
(also known as Mahonia bealei)
Berberidaceae or Barberry Family


Shrub to 6 ft tall, but in Wildwood very small (so far). Leaves evergreen, made up of 7 to 9 leaflets. Each leaflet, oval, with dangerously sharp spiny teeth. Leaves may turn purple in the winter (see picture below). Flowers are bell-shaped, yellow, very like the flowers of other barberries, in large showy, branched clusters; however, our plants have not been observed to flower. Fruits are blue berries with a whitish bloom, on red fruitstalks, also very showy. Since our plants have not flowered, they have not fruited either. Blooming period is mid-winter.

A nasty invasive, spreading relatively recently. The Wildwood plants were probably planted by birds, and we probably should chop them down before they flower and fruit. At least two plants in the Park, both in the forests on the eastern slope.

At first glance it can easily be mistaken for American holly (Ilex opaca) as it's leaflets are very like holly leaves; however, holly leaves are simple, not divided into leaflets and are not opposite each other. The flowers are very like those of American barberry (B. canadensis) and Japanese barberry (B. thunbergii), but these plants do not have flowers in large showy inflorescences. Also the leaves of these species are smaller, thinner, not divided into leaflets, and dropped in the fall.

  Winter foliage  

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