CPC Plant Profile: Kofa Barberry
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Plant Profile

Kofa Barberry (Berberis harrisoniana)

  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Berberidaceae
  • State: AZ, CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 134050
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Known as either the Harrison’s or Kofa barberry, Berberis harrisoniana is an evergreen shrub known for its clusters of bright yellow flowers that later mature into its black-blue barberries. Though some barberries are safe to eat, this species is NOT one of them! Other recognizable traits include its thick, evergreen leaves that are lined with spines at the leaf tips. Known populations of B. harrisoniana are scattered on both sides of the California-Arizona border where the terrain is mainly desert mountain ranges. In these conditions, B.harrisoniana prefers high elevations where it thrives in shaded alcoves along the mountainous, steep-walled canyons. On both sides of the state line, B. harrisoniana suffers from the same conservation threats including trampling and erosion.   

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Center for Plant Conservation
  • 07/13/2021
  • Genetic Research

In 2016, genetic sequence of a Berberis harrisoniana voucher was mapped and entered into NCBI by Y.D. Kim, S.H. Kim, and L.R. Landrum. 
An associated taxonomy paper by the same authors can be found here: "Taxonomic and phytogeographic implications from ITS phylogeny in Berberis (Berberidaceae)."

  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 1 accessions of Berberis harrisoniana in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 2062 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden has collected 1 seed accessions of Berberis harrisoniana from 1 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 13 maternal plants

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Taxon Berberis harrisoniana
Authority Kearney & Peebles
Family Berberidaceae
CPC Number 549
ITIS 18823
Common Names Harrison's barberry | Kofa barberry | Red barberry
Associated Scientific Names Mahonia harrisoniana | Berberis harrisoniana
Distribution This species is distributed between Arizona and California. Between the two, B. harrisoniana is primarily found in Arizona (Maricopa, Yuma, and Pima counties). In California, B. harrisoniana only occurs in the southeastern corner of San Bernardino County. In that area, they have been found growing across the Whipple Mountain region.
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S1
California S1

B. harrisoniana grow in shaded alcoves and caves along canyon walls with elevations between 700 and 1200m. These canyons are vertically steep with soil mainly composed of andesite and rhyolite.

Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Mining bees Andrena Not Specified Link
Centris bees Ceratina Not Specified Link
Anthophorine bees Habropoda Not Specified Link
Sweat bees Halictus Not Specified Link
Leaf-cutting bees Osmia Not Specified Link
Long-horned bees Synhalonia Not Specified Link
Mining bees Andrena Not Specified Link
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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