Species in the barberry family in our region are perennial herbs or woody shrubs with alternate leaves that may be divided into smaller leaflets. The shrubs have spines growing on the stems at the nodes. The flowers may be solitary or clustered into branching inflorescences. The 4-6 sepals resemble the petals in some species; both attach below the ovary (i.e., the ovary is superior). There are 6-9 petals. The flowers are bisexual (having both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing parts) and are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical), with 6 stamens and a single carpel. The anthers of most species open to release pollen by uplifting flaps (rather than longitudinal slits). The fruit is a fleshy or a naked blue seed.
This Family’s Genera in New England:
Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key