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A low, evergreen shrub, rarely more than 12 to 18 in. high, with slender trailing branches in this country, but, as seen in Chile, often sturdier and more erect; young shoots red. Leaves 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, quite narrow (less than 1⁄8 in.), and made to look still narrower by the margins being curled down; the apex is spine-tipped. The leaves arise in tufts from the axils of simple, or three-parted spines, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers produced singly, or two together at each tuft, golden yellow. Fruit nearly black. Blossoms in mid-May.
Introduced from Chile in 1827 by Messrs Low, then nurserymen at Clapton. Quite distinct from any other barberry in leaf and habit, and the lowest-growing of them all, this little shrub is well worth a place in the rock garden. It is not common, but has played an important part in European horticulture in being one of the parents of the beautiful hybrid – B. × stenophylla. It was originally discovered by Commerson, the French traveller in South America.