Berberis sinensis cretica (L.) Regel
Berberis vulgaris cretica (L.) Hook.f. & Thomson
Berberis cretica is a low-growing, sometimes prostrate, deciduous shrub with crooked branches that are formidably armed with three-forked spines. Although often procumbent, the plant can ometimes reach a height of up to 150cm[
The plant used to be cultivated in Cyprus for the dyestuff obtained from its roots and stems[
]. The fruit is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food, whilst the plant has a range of potential medicinal applications. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens.
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.
Southeast Europe - Greece to Cypress and western Turkey
Rocky places on mountain slopes, usually above 900 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Species in this genus generaly prefer a warm moist loamy soil and light shade but they are by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils[
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[
]. This species has been found to be susceptible to the disease[
Fruit - raw or cooked. The mauve-black fruit is globose[
The fruits and leaves are strongly antioxidant[
]. Extracts obtained from the fruit and leaves could be applied in the production of health-promoting dietary supplements rich in flavonoids and phenolics[
Both the water and the ethanol extracts of the root have been shown to have a significant activity against both chloroquine-sensitive and resistant Plasmodium falciparum (a protozoan parasite that can cause malaria) strains. The antimalarial activity of these extracts might be attributed mainly to isoquinoline alkaloids, for example berberin, which have been isolated from the radix[
Berberries (the leaves, fruits, roots and stems) are generally considered to be cholagogue, choleretic, antiinflammatory and febrifuge[
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[
It should not be used in combination with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine[
Berberine has also shown antitumour activity[
A dye is obtained from the plant[
]. No further information is given. It is most likely to be a yellow dye, obtained from the inner bark of the roots and stems, though it could possibly be the fruit that is used to give reds or purples[
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, mid summer in a frame.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, preferably with a heel, autumn in a frame[