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Box-leaved Barberry (Berberis microphylla)


Berberis microphylla, common name box-leaved barberry and Magellan barberry, in Spanish calafate and michay and other names, is an evergreen shrub, with simple, shiny box-like leaves. The Calafate is native to southern Argentina and Chile and is a symbol of Patagonia. The bush grows to a height of 1.0 to 1.5 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 11 in). It has many arching branches, each covered in many tripartite spines. The bush has many small yellow flowers in summer. Its edible blue-black berries are harvested for jams, but are eaten fresh too - a legend tells that anyone who eats a calafate berry will be certain to return to Patagonia. The calafate is grown commercially for its fruit, potential medical uses and as a garden plant or bonsai. Its wood is used to make a red dye. The cultivar Berberis microphylla 'Nana' is widely available as a garden shrub, and is also used in commercial plantings as a low spiny hedge to discourage intruders, but it does not fruit. Berberis microphylla should not be confused with Mahonia microphylla T.S.Ying & GR.Long, native to China

Taxonomic tree

  • Domain: Eukarya

    • Kingdom: Plantae

      • Phylum:

        • Class: Magnoliopsida

          • Order: Ranunculales

            • Family: Berberidaceae

              • Genus: Berberis