PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Darwin’s Barberry (Berberis darwinii)

Barberry plants come off as very prickly at first meeting, but once you get to know them they turn out to be fascinating and very helpful friends. Barberries, including Oregon Grape (Mahonia spp.), have been used in traditional medicines around the world for many thousands of years as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-allergy, for skin eruptions, respiratory problems, and blood circulation. Current research is proving all of that is true. Here’s info from NIH:

Only a few Barberry species are evergreen. Darwin’s Barberry is one of those and has much more to offer. Small dark green leaves become infused with thousands of tightly clustered dayglo yellow-orange flowers through mid spring. It is glorious at peak bloom. These turn to berries which ripen at summer’s end. Fruit is abundant, sweet, flavorful, and nutritious. Harvesting from any other Barberry would turn you into a shish-ka-bob but Darwin’s has very short thorns and is no worse than harvesting blackberries.

Darwin’s Barberry will get 4-6 ft tall and can be kept to any size & shape in part to full sun. It’s tough as nails and will still thrive with neglect. Recognized by Charles Darwin during his famous ride aboard the Beagle while exploring the southern coast of South America in 1835. It had been known and used by the original people there for millennia before Darwin “discovered” it.