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Native alternative(s) for Berberis fremontii:
Berberis canadensis Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Berberis aquifolium Early spring in a woodland habitat.
Berberis repens Mahonia repens
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis

Berberis fremontii

Previously known as:

  • Mahonia fremontii
Phonetic Spelling
BUR-bur-is free-MON-tee-eye
Description

Fremont barberry is an upright evergreen shrub in the Berberidaceae (barberry) family that is native to the slopes and grasslands of the southwestern U.S.A. and Mexico.  The Latin name fremontii comes from the bontical collector John C. Fremont. It grows to a mature height of 9 to 10 feet sometimes up to 15 feet tall.  

The leaves are spiny and look similar to holly plants.  New leaves emerge with a purple tinge and mature to a green color and fade to green-blue as they age.    

Plant in full sun in well-drained soils that can be very dry.  Propagate this plant by seed, no stratification is necessary.  Fremont barberry is resistant to drought and browsing by deer.  

Use this evergreen shrub in a rock garden or planted along a slope.  Its support of moth larvae make it a good candidate for a nighttime or pollinator garden.  The spiny leaves work well as a security or screening plant. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#perennials#purple leaves#yellow flowers#native shrub#low maintenance#slopes#security plant#deer resistant#nighttime garden#blue-green leaves#spines#long bloom time#rock garden#screening#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#dry soils tolerant#moth larvae
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#perennials#purple leaves#yellow flowers#native shrub#low maintenance#slopes#security plant#deer resistant#nighttime garden#blue-green leaves#spines#long bloom time#rock garden#screening#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#evergreen shrub#dry soils tolerant#moth larvae
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Berberis
    Species:
    fremontii
    Family:
    Berberidaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Zuni people used the crushed fruit to dye skin and for ceremonial purposes. Hopi Indians used it medicinally.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southwestern U.S.A., Mexico
    Wildlife Value:
    Moth larva are supported.
    Edibility:
    Not poisonous, but berries contain berberine that can cause stomach upset, especially with children.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Dull yellow to red purple to black ellipsoid berry 1/2 wide.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Description:
    6 petals and 9 sepals arranged in groups of three of pale to bright yellow. Form inflorences of 8-12 flowers. Blooms appear in the spring and sometimes the fall.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Pinnately compound alternate drab gray-green stiff leathery leaflets 2 cm long with wavy spine-tipped margins with teeth. Often folded along the midrib base truncate and tip acute. New leaves are purple when young and mature to green and age blue-green they are crowded on short stems.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Light brown, gray to purple glabrous
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Security
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns