Berberis temolaica Ahrendt

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Bean

A deciduous shrub to 8 ft high with stout, arching stems, glaucous when young but ageing to dark purple. Spines three-parted, about 25 in. long. Leaves oblong to obovate, 34 to 134 in. long, tapered at the base into a very short stalk edged with a few spiny, spreading teeth or entire, dull glaucous green and slightly bloomy above, white beneath. Flowers solitary, pale yellow, on stalks about 12 in. long. Fruit red with a white bloom, egg-shaped to oblong, about 25 in. long.

This striking species was discovered by Kingdon Ward on the Temo La in the Tibetan province of Pome in 1924. It is also in cultivation (in its var. artisepala Ahrendt) from seed collected by Ludlow, Sherriff, and Taylor in the neighbouring Tsari district in 1938. It is an arresting sight in spring, when the blue and white of the young leaves and stems harmonise with the pale yellow flowers. It much resembles B. dictyophylla (q.v.) and is perhaps the finer shrub. The specific epithet is sometimes given wrongly as “telomaica”.

B. temolaica, when first introduced, was quite widely distributed under the name “B. mekongensis” and may still be found under this label in older collections.

Genus

Berberis

Other species in the genus