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A sturdy evergreen shrub 8 to 12 ft high; shoots glabrous, formidably armed with stiff, three-pronged spines 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, but sometimes quite unarmed; spines grooved on the lower side. Leaves 3⁄4 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, oval to oval-oblong, the base cuneate to rounded, the apex abruptly narrowed to a mucro, varying from sparsely spiny-toothed to entire, glabrous, glossy; stalk 1⁄4 in. or less long. Flowers saffron yellow, 3⁄16 in. wide, borne twenty to thirty together densely on glabrous, pendulous racemes 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Fruit roundish ovoid, 3⁄16 in. long, purple, bloomy; stigma very prominent. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 139.
Native of Chile from Chilian to Valdivia province; described by Philippi in 1856. It was introduced to Kew in 1902, but the present stock is from seed collected by Clarence Elliott and the late Dr Gourlay near Temuco in 1929. Raised from their seed, it flowered in the Cambridge Botanic Garden in 1937 and was given an Award of Merit when shown by Lady Lawrence in 1939. Dr Gourlay had a plant 8 ft high in his garden at Cambridge; cut to the ground in the hard winter of 1946-7, it had by 1950 made a bush 6 ft high and as much wide. It was this plant that provided the material for the figure in the Botanical Magazine. It is very distinct in its usually unarmed, thick, leathery leaves and altogether a handsome evergreen that should be more widely grown.
This species is hardy at Kew. There is a good specimen near the Berberis Dell, by the walk leading from the Victoria Gate to the Lion Gate.