Fremont's Barberry

Genus Mahonia or Berberus
Barberry Family (Berberidaceae)

Leaves of the Fremont Barberry

Mahonia or
Fremont's Barberry
(Mahonia fremontii)

This evergreen desert shrub usually grows about five feet tall.
The leaflets are about an inch long, stiff and spiny-tipped. They are light bluish green in color. This color is an advantage to a plant growing in a desert environment because it helps reflect the hot sunlight and reduce evaporation of moisture.

Flowers on a Fremont Barberry shrub

The shrub blossoms early in the spring with bright yellow flowers, each having six petals.

The plant is named for Bernard M'Mahon, an American horticulturist, and for the explorer John C. Fremont.

See Oregon Grape for another plant in the same family, which occurs commonly in the foothills of northern Utah.