Berberis – and a mystery plant hunter….

A label with minimal detail next to this shrub – near the Victoria Gate at Kew – a dense, prickly plant, chest high, abundantly berried with small, bright ruby lozenges. Berberis is a group of about 450 evergreen and deciduous plants from all parts of the northern hemisphere, Africa and South America. And this one is? It is deciduous, with persistent red fruit…

I know that the reference at the top left of the label refers to the party who collected the specimen (seed for example) and the number 1347 makes this the 1,347th specimen they have collected. Even if this had been distributed to several places across the globe, they would all have the same reference, SICH 1347, whatever became of them.

Who is SICH? – he/she/they collected specimens of  other plants which have a home at Kew – other SICH numbers are recorded on t’internet.  I’ll try and find out more (when I next visit Kew maybe) but for the moment, beautiful and striking though it is, ‘Berberis’ alone it remains.

By the way, the Orchid Festival runs 8th February to 9th March 2014. It promises to be even more spectacular than before!

One thought on “Berberis – and a mystery plant hunter….

  1. I received an email today concerning the identification of this Berbers from Julian Harber, Research Associate at Missouri Botanical Garden, which read –

    Dear Martin

    I see from you would like to know the identification of SICH 1347

    It is Berberis daochengensis T.S. Ying

    Here are the collection details

    Fliegner,Erskine,Howick & McNamara (SICH 1347)

    Collected on 23.9.94 at c.3700m from a deciduous shrub arching to 2m, cut over, leaves in whorls of up to seven, obovate to 3.5×1.3cm, bright mid green above and much paler below, spines in threes, sometimes twos, to 3cm, tubular berry to 1cm turning red, frequent in partial sun on loam on an open mossy forest floor with Picea likiangensis, Larix potaninii, and betula on an east facing slope in a narrow north/south gorge above Camp 1 at Yading farmsteads following Yading River upstream on the north-east side of Xiao Gongga Shan, Daocheng Co, Sichuan.


    Julian Harber

    Research Associate

    Missouri Botanical Garden

    Many Many thanks!

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