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Berberis herbal plants

Posted by Bangzkie Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Berberis the barberries or pepperidge bushes, is a genus of about 450-500 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall with thorny shoots, native to the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They are closely related to the genus Mahonia, which is included within Berberis by some botanists. Species diversity is greatest in South America, Africa and Asia; Europe has a few species, and North America only two.

Medicinal use
The dried fruit of berberis vulgaris, generally simply known as Barberry, is used as a herbal medicine. The active ingredients in barberries are thought to be the isoquinolone alkaloids, especially berberine (also found, in higher concentrations, in the traditional Chinese medicine herb Coptis chinensis).

Cooking use
The berries are edible, and rich in vitamin C, with a very sharp flavour. The thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult. Berries are often used in Middle Eastern and European rice pilaf recipes. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. A widely available Ukrainian, Russian, Estonian and Lithuanian candy called Барбарис (Barbaris) is made using extract from the berries, which are commonly pictured on the candy wrappers. Confiture d'épinette was a traditional sweet of Rouen.


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