Herb latin name: Berberis asiatica
Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)
Medicinal use of Berberis asiatica:The roots are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers etc. The roots contain 2.1% berberine, the stems 1.3%. 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. It is taken internally to treat fevers and is used externally to treat conjuctivitis and other inflammations of the eyes. Tender leaf buds are chewed and held against affected teeth for 15 minutes to treat dental caries. The fruit is cooling and laxative. 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. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Shrubberies, grassy and rocky slopes up to 2500 metres. Found in heavy shade, on north-facing slopes and on open hillsides in the drier areas.
Edible parts of Berberis asiatica:Fruit - raw or dried and used like raisins. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins. Fully ripe fruits are fairly juicy with a pleasantly acid flavour, though there are rather a lot of seeds. The fruit is abundantly produced in Britain. The fruit is about 8mm long.
Other uses of the herb:A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and stems. The spiny branches are used to make fencing around fields in Nepal.
Propagation of Berberis asiatica:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, when it should germinate in late winter or early spring. Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate, whilst stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so should be kept well ventilated. 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.
Cultivation of the herb:Shrubberies, grassy and rocky slopes up to 2500 metres. Found in heavy shade, on north-facing slopes and on open hillsides in the drier areas.
Known hazards of Berberis asiatica:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.