This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs with yellow wood, often unifoliolate leaves, those of the primary shoots reduced to spines, and yellow racemose flowers. Sepals 6-9, petaloid, bracted. Petals 6, imbricated in 2 series, each with 2 basal glands. Stamens 6, irritable, closing around the stigma when shocked; anthers dehiscent by valves opening from the apex. Pistil 1; stigma peltate. Berry 1-few-seeded, mostly red. [Said to be from the Arabic name of the fruit.]
A genus of about 80 species, natives of North America, Europe, northern Asia and South America. Besides the following, another is found in western North America. Type species: Berberis vulgaris L.
Twigs ash-colored; racemes many-flowered; petals entire.
Twigs dark brown; racemes few-flowered; petals notched.
Berberis vulgaris L. Sp. Pl. 330. 1753.
A glabrous shrub, 6°-8° high, the branches arched and drooping at the ends, the twigs gray. Leaves alternate or fascicled, obovate or spatulate, unifoliolate, obtuse, thick, 1-2' long, bristly serrate, many of those on the young shoots reduced to 3-pronged spines, the fascicles of the succeeding year appearing in their axils; racemes terminating lateral branches, many-flowered, 1'-2' long (3'-4' in fruit); flowers yellow, 3"-4" broad with a disagreeable smell; petals entire; berries oblong or ellipsoid, scarlet when ripe, acid.
In thickets, naturalized from Europe in the Eastern and Middle States, adventive in Canada and the West. Native of Europe and Asia. Consists of numerous races. Pepperidge-bush. Jaundice-tree or -berry. Wood-sour. May-June.
A shrub, 1°-6° high, with slender, reddish-brown branchlets. Leaves similar to those of B. vulgaris, but with more divergent and distant teeth, or sometimes nearly entire; axillary spines 3-pronged; racemes few-flowered; petals conspicuously notched or emarginate at the apex; flowers about 3" broad, berries scarlet, oval or subglobose.
In woods, mountains of Virginia to Georgia along the Alleghanies, and in Missouri. June. Referred by Regel to B. sinensis Desf., as a variety. Readily distinguished from all races of B. vulgaris by its dark-colored twigs.