Berberis nevinii

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Berberis nevinii
Berberis nevinii
Berberis nevinii

Botanical Name: Berberis nevinii
Common Name: Nevin's Barberry

Absolutely striking in full bloom. Endemic to California, and nearly extinct in the wild. Threatened by development, road maintenance and loss of critical habitat protection in 2008. Occurs in Los Angeles Co, San Gabriel Mountains and Riverside Co.

Plant Family: Berberidaceae
Plant Type: Shrub
Height by Width: 6' H x 6' W
Growth Habit: Upright shrub
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Slow
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Drought-tolerant to occasional
Cold Hardy to: 30 degrees F
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: Yellow
Endangered?: List 1B / RED 3-3-3
Distribution: Southwestern CA
Natural Habitat: Sandy to gravelly soils, washes, chaparral below 2,000'

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Care and Maintenance

  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "A rare species found only in sandy washes in the San Fernando Valley and now almost extinct. Of dense growth with somewhat arching branches and gray green prickly foliage, the young shoots being tinged with red. The bushes grow from 5 to 10 feet high and about the same distance across. The blossoms which appear in winter and early spring are bright canary yellow, produced in clusters at the axils of the leaves forming sprays often 2 to 4 feet in length. When in full bloom this shrub presents a very pleasing appearance. The flowers are followed in summer by long sprays of brilliant scarlet berries, which come at a time of the year when red berries are scarce, making the plant especially desirable for ornamental purposes. Birds are very fond of these berries and they make excellent jelly. A very versatile shrub growing as it does in dry sandy soils without any water other than the natural rainfall, at the same time it adapts itself readily to cultivation and will thrive in any kind of soil, with or without water, in full sun or half shade. It can be utilized for many different purposes. For planting in masses or as individual specimen plants, for covering dry slopes or in a garden trained up against a wall. It also makes a splendid untrimmed hedge and one that is absolutely impenetrable. Gallon cans, 50c; 5 gallon cans, $1.75."
Other Names
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.