(Berberis asiatica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Berberis asiatica

A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and stems[272].

The spiny branches are used to make fencing around fields in Nepal[272].

  • Medicinal Use

    The roots are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers etc[240]. The roots contain 2.1% berberine, the stems 1.3%[240].

    The bark and wood are crushed in Nepal then boiled in water, strained and the liquid evaporated until a viscous mass is obtained. This is antibacterial, laxative and tonic[272]. It is taken internally to treat fevers and is used externally to treat conjuctivitis and other inflammations of the eyes[272].

    Tender leaf buds are chewed and held against affected teeth for 15 minutes to treat dental caries[272].

    The fruit is cooling and laxative[272].

    Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Berberis species, has marked antibacterial effects. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery[218]. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine[218]. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity[218].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or dried and used like raisins[2, 3, 51, 105, 158, 183]. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins[183]. Fully ripe fruits are fairly juicy with a pleasantly acid flavour, though there are rather a lot of seeds[K]. The fruit is abundantly produced in Britain[2]. The fruit is about 8mm long[200].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, when it should germinate in late winter or early spring[78]. Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate[78], whilst stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[80]. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so should be kept well ventilated[113]. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame. If growth is sufficient, it can be possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the autumn, but generally it is best to leave them in the cold frame for the winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, preferably with a heel, October/November in a frame[78].
Prefers a warm moist loamy soil and light shade but it is by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils[11, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are often found growing in dense shade in the wild[67]. Plants are generally very hardy and fruit abundantly in Britain[2]. They grow very well in Cornwall[11, 59]. In colder areas of the country they are apt to be cut to the ground in severe winters, though they resprout well from the base[1, 67]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[1]. This species is often offered under the names of B. chitria or B. glaucocarpa[200]. Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they resprout well from the base[200].
E. Asia – Himalayas (Nepal)

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.