Herb latin name: Berberis x stenophylla

Synonyms: Berberis x irwinii

Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Medicinal use of Berberis x stenophylla:

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:


2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Berberis x stenophylla:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A delicious sub-acid flavour, though there are a lot of seeds to relatively little flesh. Children generally love this fruit, along with some adults, though most adults seem to prefer it cooked in pies, preserves etc. The fruit is not always very freely borne, growing the plants near to B. darwinii (which is one of its parents) seems to increase the yield. The fruits are about 7mm long.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants are very tolerant of trimming and can be grown as a medium-size hedge. Their long arching branches look especially nice if the plants are allowed to grow as an untrimmed informal hedge that is very resistant to maritime exposure. It succeeds on top of Cornish hedges. The prickles make it impenetrable though it can be invasive. There are some named varieties of prostrate growth that are suitable for use as a ground cover. "Corallina" and "Prostrata" have been especially mentioned. A yellow dye is obtained from the root.

Propagation of Berberis x stenophylla:

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. This plant does not breed true from seed because it is a hybrid species. Most of the seedlings revert back to one of the parents, usually B. darwinii. 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. Suckers, removed in late autumn/early winter and planted out in situ or potted up and planted out in late spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Berberis x stenophylla:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.