An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high, of dense bushy habit; young shoots yellowish grey, angular, glabrous; spines three-pronged, each prong 1⁄2 to 11⁄8 in. long. Leaves in clusters of up to five, obovate to oval, spiny toothed, tapering at the base to a very short stalk, of thick leathery texture, 11⁄2 to 2 in. long. Flowers crowded as many as fifteen together in a cluster, each on a slender stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, yellow. Fruit oval, 1⁄3 in. long, black, covered with a blue-white bloom, the stalk reddish; style persisting at the top.
Native of W. China; introduced by Wilson in 1908. It has been compared with B. pruinosa especially in the vividly blue-white fruits, but that species has round, not angular, young shoots and its leaves are glaucous beneath. Related more nearly to B. julianae.
var. acanthophylla Schneid. – As seen growing at Kew this is a very striking barberry. The largest leaves are almost holly-like in appearance on account of the two to six large, conspicuous, triangular teeth on each margin; they are up to 2 in. long by 3⁄4 in. wide. I should have thought it distinct enough to have deserved a specific name, but Dr Schneider observes that the red-stalked, blue-black fruits with two seeds closely resemble those of the type.
B. × wintonensis Ahrendt – A hybrid, with the preceding species as seed parent, which arose in the nurseries of Messrs Hillier, Winchester, about 1935. It is a hardy, compact evergreen, with narrower leaves than in the parent, flowering freely in February. The identity of the pollen parent is not known.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
Although this species was at one time thought to be near to B. pruinosa (which, incidentally, does not always have the leaves glaucous beneath), it is not related to it, nor indeed, as was suggested, to B. julianae.