“Once you taste the Calafate berry, you are destined to return to Patagonia….”
So goes the age-old parable of the Calafate bush, one of the most well-known and well-loved shrubs in all of Patagonia. A short, prickly thorny mess of a bush, the Calafate can be a royal pain to hike through. Unless, of course, you’re walking by during the late spring and early summer season, when the Calafate is covered in beautiful, juicy blue-black berries so delicious, you might just end up coming back for more.
Calafate, or Berberis microphylla, is an evergreen shrub, bearing shiny, box-like leaves and growing to a height of three to five feet. The calafate grows with many arching branches covered in thorns—take care when picking berries! During the summer, the bush bears beautiful small yellow flowers. You can find calafate bushes dotting the grasslands all around the Patagonia National Park project. Feel free to take a handful of berries along with you on your hike—just remember to share with the culpeos and the guanacos!
Name: Calafate (Berberis microphylla)
Geographic Range: Southern Argentina and Chile
Habitat: semi-arid soils in areas of high sunlight
Size: 1-1.5 meters in height
Notable trait(s): Bears blue-black berries in the summertime. A well-reknown staple throughout Patagonia, used in jams, pies, ice creams, etc.