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Holly Barberry (Berberis ilicifolia)


Berberis ilicifolia, sometimes called holly barberry or holly-leaved barberry is a medium to high, spiny shrub belonging to the barberries in the family Berberidaceae. The local name in Chile is Chelia. It has ovate leaves with a few teeth that end in spines, reminiscent of holly leaves. Its orange flowers grow with three to seven together, which later produce globose blue-black berries. The species originates south of 40ºS in Argentina and Chile, where it grows in Nothofagus woods. Flowers are present from August to December, while ripe berries are available between November and March. The holly barberry is an evergreen shrub of between 1–4 m high. Branches develop from reddish brown, with ridges lengthways and very fine grains when young, to yellowish gray, circular in cross-section with persistent half circle-shaped leaf scars, and often with corky outgrowths. The spines are mostly split at base into three arms of 4–12 mm long, often somewhat curved outward, and almost at a straight angle to each other. Bracts are narrowly triangular and about 1 cm long. The leaf blades are approximately elliptic, 20-50 × 12–22 mm, with the largest width before, at or beyond midlength, stiff and leathery, shiny danker green on top, but sometimes prone to patchy reddish brown or golden discoloration, and whitish green underneath. The margin mostly has few teeth (zero to six, mostly one to four) at each side that end in spines of 1–4 mm long, and with a truncated, or pointed and spined tip. The base can be rounded or pointed more or less blending with the leafstem of up to 4 mm long.

Taxonomic tree

  • Domain: Eukarya

    • Kingdom: Plantae

      • Phylum:

        • Class: Magnoliopsida

          • Order: Ranunculales

            • Family: Berberidaceae

              • Genus: Berberis