Herb latin name: Mahonia confusa

Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Medicinal use of Mahonia confusa:

The leaf is used in the treatment of cancer. A decoction of the root is febrifuge and odontalgic. Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Mahonia species, has marked antibacterial effects and is used as a bitter tonic. 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. The root and root bark are best harvested in the autumn.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

October to


Habitat of the herb:

Wet shady ravines and woods.

Edible parts of Mahonia confusa:

Fruit - raw or cooked. An acid but nice flavour and fairly juicy, it makes a pleasant nibble and is nice in other dishes, especially when added to muesli or porridge. Unfortunately, there is relatively little flesh and a lot of seeds. The fruit ripens in early to mid spring, a time when little other fresh fruit is available in the garden.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in the spring. "Green" seed (harvested when the embryo has fully developed but before the seed case has dried) should be sown as soon as it is harvested and germinates within 6 weeks. Stored seed should be sown as soon as possible in late winter or spring. 3 weeks cold stratification will improve its germination, which should take place in 3 - 6 months at 10C. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer and consider giving them some protection from the cold for their next winter. Division of suckers in spring. Whilst they can be placed direct into their permanent positions, better results are achieved if they are potted up and placed in a frame until established. Leaf cuttings in the autumn.

Cultivation of Mahonia confusa:

Wet shady ravines and woods.

Known hazards of Mahonia confusa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.