Fremont Barberry [Berberis fremontii Torrey var. fremontii = Mahonia higginsae Ahrendt]

Fremont Barberry [Berberis fremontii Torrey var. fremontii = Mahonia higginsae Ahrendt]

Listing CNPS List 3 R-E-D Code ?-?-1

State/Federal. Status --/3C BERBERIDACEAE Apr.-Jun.

Global Rank G2G3 State Rank S2?

Distribution: San Diego County, San Bernardino County; Arizona; Nevada; Baja California; Sonora, Mexico

Habitat: High Desert Chaparral is the Southern California habitat for this large shrub. The site near Bankhead Springs consists of xeric, relatively uniform chaparral of moderate density growing on fairly level terrain. Granitic boulder fields lie nearby. The soil is mapped as La Posta rocky loamy coarse sand.

Known Sites: Several shrubs were seen growing on the freeway center divide north of Bankhead Springs. Although the very rugged hills in the region are poorly explored, M. fremontii is apparently quite rare in these rocky, high desert badlands. An old report is from near Boulevard. There is another report of a lone shrub south of Lost Valley Road in McCain Valley, 0.25 mile southwest of the airway beacon. Data Base reports are for southern McCain Valley in the Tule Lake Area north of Interstate 8, near Dubber 0.3-0.4 mile northeast of the northeastern corner of the trailer park, Walker Canyon south of Interstate 8 and 1.1 miles east of McCain Valley, and a rocky point across from the old Boulevard Post Office (where possibly no longer extant). In San Bernardino this shrub is known from reportedly extirpated sites at Cushenbury Springs and near Barnwell in the New York Mountains.

Twenty-four collections from Baja California are gathered in the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium. It is found as far south as 28 24' North where collected by Moran (SD 64983) at Tenajas de la Chona in the Sierra San Borja.

Status: The Southern California populations of Fremont's Barberry are stable. These populations were formerly referred to Mahonia higginsiae; under the Michael P. Williams treatment in the Jepson Manual (1993), they are considered a synonym for the wider ranging, desert shrub Mahonia fremontii var. fremontii.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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