Friday, March 18, 2011

Berberis darwinii--Darwin Barberry

Can you see those little spines on the leaves? Ouch! I tried to hold the plant still for a photograph, and I found out just how sharp they are. As I was researching this plant this morning, one website I found said, "Handle with extreme caution." Now you tell me!

This glorious bush with tons of amber yellow flowers is in bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden. In September, it will be covered in beautiful deep blue edible berries. They can be eaten fresh, frozen, or dried like raisins. Alternatively, birds love them, so they can just be left on the bush for the birds and their ornamental value. The species is native to South American, and the indigenous people there have eaten the fruit for thousands of years. Darwin collected this plant in 1835 during the voyage of the Beagle, so the plant is named after him.

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