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Useful Temperate Plants

Berberis aristata

DC.

Berberidaceae

+ Synonyms

Berberis bussmul K.Koch ex Miq.

Berberis chitria D.Don

Berberis coccinea K.Koch

Berberis coerulescens G.Nicholson

Berberis elegans K.Koch

Berberis gracilis Lindl.

Berberis gracillima K.Koch ex Miq.

Berberis macrophylla K.Koch

Berberis serratifolia K.Koch

Berberis umbellata Lindl.

Berberis undulata K.Koch

Common Name: Chitra

Berberis aristata
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Dinesh Valke
Creative Commons License
Berberis aristata Berberis aristata Berberis aristata Berberis aristata Berberis aristata Berberis aristata

General Information

Berberis aristata is an erect, spiny, evergreen shrub that branches freely from the base; it can grow up to 5 metres tall[
1100
Title
A Revision of Berberis ss (Berberidaceae) in Nepal
Publication
Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 69, pp 447­522
Author
B. Adhikari, C. A. Pendry, R. T. Pennington and R. I. Milne
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A comprehensive revision of the Barberry species in Nepal, reducing a number of previously accepted species to synonymy and describing two new species.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials, and the fruits are sometimes sold as a food in local markets[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
]. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens, where it can be used as a hedge.
It is proposed that the plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2016)[
1100
Title
A Revision of Berberis ss (Berberidaceae) in Nepal
Publication
Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 69, pp 447­522
Author
B. Adhikari, C. A. Pendry, R. T. Pennington and R. I. Milne
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A comprehensive revision of the Barberry species in Nepal, reducing a number of previously accepted species to synonymy and describing two new species.
].

Known Hazards

All parts of the plant contain the alkaloid berberine - this is most concentrated in the roots, stems and inner bark, and least concentrated in the fruits. In small quantities berberine has a range of effective medicinal applications but, in excess, can cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lethargy, and other ill-effects.
The fruit of most, if not all, members of this genus are more or less edible and can be eaten in quantity since the levels of berberine in the fruit are very low.

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1100
Title
A Revision of Berberis ss (Berberidaceae) in Nepal
Publication
Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 69, pp 447­522
Author
B. Adhikari, C. A. Pendry, R. T. Pennington and R. I. Milne
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A comprehensive revision of the Barberry species in Nepal, reducing a number of previously accepted species to synonymy and describing two new species.

Range

E. Asia - Himalayas in Nepal.

Habitat

Shrubberies; at elevations up to 3,500 metres[
51
Title
Flowers of the Himalayas.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Stainton. A.
Publisher
Oxford Universtiy Press
Year
1984
ISBN
-
Description
A very readable and good pocket guide (if you have a very large pocket!) to many of the wild plants in the Himalayas. Gives many examples of plant uses.
]. Open hillsides; at elevations from 1,800 - 3,000 metres[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height3.50 m
Growth RateMedium
PollinatorsInsects, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Berberis aristata is able to tolerate quite severe winters - it is known to have survived temperatures down to -15°c without damage[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Prefers a warm moist loamy soil and light shade but it is by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils.
Plants can be pruned back quite severely and resprout well from the base[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants in the wild yield about 650g of fruit in 4 pickings[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
].
The fruits are sometimes sold in local markets in India[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
].
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Most plants cultivated under this name are Berberis chitria., Berberis coriaria., Berberis glaucocarpa. And, more commonly, Berberis floribunda[
67
Title
Berberis and Mahonia.
Publication
 
Author
Ahrendt.
Publisher
Journal of the Linnean Society, 57
Year
1961
ISBN
-
Description
Not for the casual reader, it lists all the known species in these two genera together with botanic descriptions and other relevant details for the botanist.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Some Berberis species (especially Berberis vulgaris) harbour the black stem-rust fungus (Puccinia graminis Persoon). This is a major disease of wheat and barley crops and can spread from infected barberries to the grain crop. The sale or transport of susceptible or untested species of Berberis is illegal in the United States and Canada[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. This species has been found to be susceptible to the disease[
1155
Title
Rust Susceptible Berberis, Mahoberberis, and Mahonia Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
https://www.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/st-paul-mn/cereal-disease-lab/docs/barberry/rust-susceptible-berberis-mahoberberis-and-mahonia/
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research S
Year
2017
ISBN
 
Description
A list of Berberidaceae that are considered to be susceptible to black stem-rust fungus.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
145
Title
Forest Flora of Srinagar.
Publication
 
Author
Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
]. A well-flavoured fruit, it has a sweet taste with a blend of acid, though there is a slight bitterness caused by the seeds[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The fruit is much liked by children[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. It is dried and used like raisins in India[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
3
Title
Growing Unusual Fruit.
Publication
 
Author
Simmons. A. E.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
1972
ISBN
0-7153-5531-7
Description
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
,
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The fruit contains about 2.3% protein, 12% sugars, 2% ash, 0.6% tannin, 0.4% pectin[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
]. There is 4.6mg vitamin C per 100ml of juice[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
].The dark purple to black, oblong-ovoid fruit is about 7 - 10mm and 4mm wide[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1100
Title
A Revision of Berberis ss (Berberidaceae) in Nepal
Publication
Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 69, pp 447­522
Author
B. Adhikari, C. A. Pendry, R. T. Pennington and R. I. Milne
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
 
Description
A comprehensive revision of the Barberry species in Nepal, reducing a number of previously accepted species to synonymy and describing two new species.
].

Flower buds - added to sauces[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].

Medicinal

Berberis aristata is one of the more important medicinal herbs of the Himalayas, with most parts of the plant being employed to treat a range of complaints[
372
Title
Flowers of India
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.flowersofindia.net/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A wed site of native Indian plants, plus cultivated and naturalized species. It has good quality photos and terse details on more than 3,000 species and cultivars.
].

The dried stem, root bark and wood are alterative, antiperiodic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, laxative, ophthalmic and tonic (bitter)[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
158
Title
Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur.
Publication
 
Author
Gupta. B. L.
Publisher
Forest Research Institute Press
Year
1945
ISBN
-
Description
A good flora for the middle Himalayan forests, sparsly illustrated. Not really for the casual reader.
,
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
,
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. An infusion is used in the treatment of malaria, eye complaints, skin diseases, menorrhagia, diarrhoea and jaundice[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
,
243
Title
Medicinal Plants of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
Dept. of Medicinal Plants. Nepal.
Year
1993
ISBN
-
Description
Terse details of the medicinal properties of Nepalese plants, including cultivated species and a few imported herbs.
].

The alkaloid berberine, which is universally present in the roots and stems 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[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
It should not be used in combination with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
Berberine has also shown antitumour activity[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries; whilst also providing a range of medicinal and other uses[
1174
Title
Ethnobotanical Uses of Biofencing Plants in Himachel Pradesh, Northwest Himalaya
Publication
Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences 16 (24): 1957-1963, 2013
Author
Pankaj Sharma & Usha Devi
Publisher
 
Year
2013
ISBN
1028-8880
Description
A brief look at 61 species of plants used in hedging in northwest Himalayas nd their other uses
]. The spiny branches are also cut from plants and interwoven into hedges and also used for making fencing around fields[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

Other Uses

A yellow dye is obtained from the root and the stem[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].
An important source of dyestuff and tannin, it is perhaps one of the best tannin dyes available in India[
194
Title
Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region.
Publication
 
Author
Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K.
Publisher
Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
Year
1982
ISBN
-
Description
Contains lots of information on about 25 species of fruit-bearing plants of the Himalayas, not all of them suitable for cool temperate zones.
].

The wood is used as a fuel[
146
Title
A Manual of Indian Timbers.
Publication
 
Author
Gamble. J. S.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1972
ISBN
-
Description
First written in the 19th century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it should germinate in late winter or early spring[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. Stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible[
80
Title
Hardy Woody Plants from Seed.
Publication
 
Author
McMillan-Browse. P.
Publisher
Grower Books
Year
1985
ISBN
0-901361-21-6
Description
Does not deal with many species but it is very comprehensive on those that it does cover. Not for casual reading.
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first winter. Once they are at least 20cm tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so be careful not to overwater them and keep them well ventilated[
113
Title
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
Publication
 
Author
Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W.
Publisher
Athens Ga. Varsity Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0942375009
Description
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
].
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame. Very difficult, if not impossible.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, preferably with a heel, autumn in a frame[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. Very difficult, if not impossible.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2018-10-21. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Berberis+aristata>

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