Herb latin name: Berberis lycium

Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Medicinal use of Berberis lycium:

The roots are aperient, carminative, febrifuge and ophthalmic. They are used in the treatment of eye complaints, menorrhagia, chronic diarrhoea and piles. The leaves have been used in the treatment of jaundice. 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:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Shrubberies and open hillsides, usually on hot dry slopes, to 3000 metres. in Kashmir.

Edible parts of Berberis lycium:

Fruit - raw or cooked and made into preserves. Fairly juicy with a nice slightly acid flavour. The fruits are about 8mm long. Leaves and young shoots - cooked. Leaves are a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is obtained from the root.

Propagation of Berberis lycium:

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 and open hillsides, usually on hot dry slopes, to 3000 metres. in Kashmir.

Known hazards of Berberis lycium:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.