Berberis fremontii is in the Barberry family or Berberidaceae…that’s fun to pronounce. Fremont barberry has quite a range north of the Salt River in Arizona and extends into Utah, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. Down in the borderlands around you and me we can find the barberry species B. repens, haematocarpa, wilcoxii and trifoliata. Go way west to the Kofa Mountains and you’ll find B. harrisoniana. That’s a bunch of cool leathery spiny leaved evergreen shrubs in southern Arizona.
If you were to grow some of our native Berberis species in a nursery/greenhouse setting you’d noticed that they’re slow growing, at least at the start. Horticulture is a lot about patience. I like that and wish the attitude would carry through to home owners who always want something “that grows fast”. I think that’s why we end up with so many non-native species in our domestic and urban landscapes, as folks just want something that’s fast growing and really couldn’t give a hoot whether it’s native or not. “Petey, gimme fast”. Deep sigh. I sure spend a lot of time trying to convince folks that native species will be a lot happier in their yards than the exotics they purchase from God knows where. “Oh, and did I mention all the cool native pollinators that evolved with these native plants?” I shout as they walk away…another deep sigh.
Anyway, now you know about some native barberry species and did I mention that there are nurseries that grow and sell them? Yes! And yeah, they’re slow growing at the start, but hey, what are you waiting for? Go native!
The photos are mine of a Fremont barberry in our yard. Look at all the fruit and those pokey leathery leaves. You can see why birds are attracted to these shrubs when they are loaded with fruit. And all the species have yummy fruit for wildlife. Oh and can you see that little beetle on the fruit?