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An evergreen shrub up to 6 ft high, forming thickets of erect stems; young shoots glabrous, reddish, becoming grey; armed with three-pronged spines that are 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. long, sharp and rigid, grooved beneath. Leaves narrowly elliptic or oblong-lanceolate, slender-pointed, 11⁄2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, edged with forward-pointing spiny teeth (sometimes double); dark green above, paler and distinctly veined on the undersides, quite glabrous on both surfaces. Flowers pale yellow, about 1⁄3 in. across, borne in stalkless clusters of two to six; petals broadly obovate, notched at the apex; individual flower-stalk up to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruit black when ripe, broadly egg-shaped, 1⁄3 in. long.
Native of W. Hupeh, China; introduced by Wilson in 1907. It is allied to B. hookeri and similar in habit, but hardier. In the Arnold Arboretum it is described as the only evergreen barberry known to be hardy there. At Kew it has withstood, quite unaffected, weather which injured B. hookeri.
The statement that this species is allied to B. hookeri was retained from earlier editions and should have been altered. It is true only in the sense that both are members of the section Wallichianae, of which B. hookeri was the commonest evergreen Asiatic species before the arrival of the Wilson introductions from western China.
B. dumicola – This species is out of place here, being grouped in the new classification with B. pruinosa.