Island barberry is a shrub about 2-3 meters tall, it produces new shoots from short underground runners. Thus, mature plants often have multiple trunks, which form colonies up to 3 meters wide. Although once known from three California Channel Islands, island barberry survives today at only a handful of known localities on Santa Cruz Island. (National Park Service 2002) Until 2017, it was known from only 5 individuals on Santa Cruz Island. Intensive sheep and cattle grazing for over 150 years contributed to its loss on Santa Rosa Island. (Klinger et al. 2002) The last remaining plants on Anacapa Island died in the 1980s. (USFWS 2000)
In July 2017, intense searches resulted in the discovery of approximately 14 new clusters of island barberry growing in dense brush in a Santa Cruz Island Canyon. Upcoming genetic work will help determine the lineage of these plants and whether they are represented in ex situ collections.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is actively investigating methods for vegetative propagation of this species to increase the probability of successful augmentation of wild populations. With renowned scientists and instructors, the Garden is an educational and scientific institution known around the world. CPC is grateful for their work and research to preserve island barberry.
The conservation experts at CPC participating institutions such as the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden share their in-depth conservation expertise about rare plants through CPC’s National Collection Plant Profiles.
Learn more about island barberry.
Island Barberry photo credit:Cedrick Villasenor ©