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A low, prostrate, evergreen shrub, with glabrous, pale, straw-coloured branches, nearly covered by large, similarly coloured, clasping stipules. Leaves green, pinnate, about 20 mm long; lobes, finely linear, 2-8 mm long; stipules membranous, furnished at the edges with white, silky hairs. Flowers solitary, stalkless, very inconspicuous, without a corolla, but with red stamens, produced singly in the leaf-axils. Fruit a white berry, 5-8 mm long, a with a pleasant acid flavour. (Bean 1981, Beckett 1994)
Distribution Andes from Colombia to Chile and Argentina, plus the uplands of Uruguay and southern Brazil.
Margyricarpus pinnatus is most frequently seen as a rock garden shrublet, forming a lax heap of narrow stems, perhaps achieving 20-30 cm in height and somewhat broader. Bean (1981) summed it up by saying ‘This curious little shrub may be grown by those interested in out-of-the-way plants; but beyond its finely cut leaves it has little to recommend it, although when its pearl-like fruits are borne freely it is distinctive.’ Bean also noted that the fruits have a pleasant acid flavour. It should be grown in full sun in well-drained soil, ideally on a rock garden or tumbling down from the top of a retaining wall. It will self-sow modestly (W. Baker pers.comm. 2020), and seed may be the best way to propagate it, though it will layer and cuttings can be taken in late summer (Beckett 1994). It is hardy in the UK under current conditions, though Bean (1981) opined ‘except during the hardest winters’.