The Barberry family globally has about 15 genera and 650 species, but there are only a few native to Montana. Several other species are cultivated. Members of the Berberidaceae are shrubs in this area. The stems sometimes have scattered vascular bundles and the wood is generally very yellow because of the presence of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid. The leaves are usually alternate, and may be simple or compound. They are often spiny, and sometimes completely reduced to spines. Stipules are usually lacking. The flowers are usually radially symmetric, bisexual, and have a perianth that is often 3-merous. Both the calyx and the corolla are made up of separate parts. There are 4 or 6 sepals, 4 or 6 outer petals, and often 6 showy, nectar-producing inner petals. There are 4 stamens with anther sacs that open by flaps that are hinged at the top. The ovary is superior. There are usually many ovules. The fruit is a berry.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Barberry Family
LOW, CREEPING SHRUBS
Mahonia repens Oregon Grape Trailing shrub 10-30 cm tall, stiff-branched. Lower foothills to forested slopes.
Flowers yellow, about 1 cm wide, with 6 petals and inner and outer sepals.
Leaves alternate, pinnate, the 5-7 leaflets with spine-tipped teeth.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Barberry family: