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Useful Temperate Plants

Berberis x stenophylla

Lindl.

Berberidaceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name:

Berberis x stenophylla
Flowering branch in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France
Photograph by: Denis.prévôt
Creative Commons License
Berberis x stenophylla Berberis x stenophylla

General Information

Berberis x stenophylla is an erect, spiny, evergreen shrub, much branched from the base, with stems that arch towards their ends; it can grow up to 3 metres tall[
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.
].
Often grown as an ornamental in gardens, there are several named forms some of which can be used as hedges or ground cover. The fruits of all the cultivars can be eaten.

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.

Range

A garden hybrid, Berberis darwinii. x Berberis empetrifolia

Habitat

Not known in the wild

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height2.00 m
Growth RateMedium
PollinatorsInsects, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Plants are hardy to about -15°c[
184
Title
Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1989
ISBN
0-330-30258-2
Description
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1,900 species and cultivars.
].
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. Tolerates maritime exposure[
75
Title
Shelter Trees and Hedges.
Publication
 
Author
Rosewarne experimental horticultural station.
Publisher
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Year
1984
ISBN
-
Description
A small booklet packed with information on trees and shrubs for hedging and shelterbelts in exposed maritime areas.
,
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.
]. Fairly slow growing[
75
Title
Shelter Trees and Hedges.
Publication
 
Author
Rosewarne experimental horticultural station.
Publisher
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Year
1984
ISBN
-
Description
A small booklet packed with information on trees and shrubs for hedging and shelterbelts in exposed maritime areas.
].
A very ornamental plant[
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]).
], there are many named varieties[
182
Title
Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7195-5043-2
Description
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
].
Plants sucker freely, forming thickets[
182
Title
Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7195-5043-2
Description
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
].
A good bee plant[
108
Title
Garden Plants Valuable to Bees.
Publication
 
Author
International Bee Research Association.
Publisher
International Bee Research Association.
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
The title says it all.
], the flowers are very fragrant.
Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they 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.
].
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 resistant 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. A delicious sub-acid flavour, though there are a lot of seeds to relatively little flesh[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Children generally love this fruit, along with some adults, though most adults seem to prefer it cooked in pies, preserves etc[
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 not always very freely borne, growing the plants near to B. darwinii (which is one of its parents) seems to increase the yield[
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 fruits are about 7mm long[
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.
].

Medicinal

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.
].

Other Uses

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[
29
Title
Hedges and Screens.
Publication
 
Author
Shepherd. F.W.
Publisher
Royal Horticultural Society.
Year
1974
ISBN
0900629649
Description
A small but informative booklet giving details of all the hedging plants being grown in the R.H.S. gardens at Wisley in Surrey.
,
75
Title
Shelter Trees and Hedges.
Publication
 
Author
Rosewarne experimental horticultural station.
Publisher
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Year
1984
ISBN
-
Description
A small booklet packed with information on trees and shrubs for hedging and shelterbelts in exposed maritime areas.
]. 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[
208
Title
Plants for Ground Cover
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons
Year
1990
ISBN
0-460-12609-1
Description
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
]. 'Corallina' and 'Prostrata' have been especially mentioned[
208
Title
Plants for Ground Cover
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons
Year
1990
ISBN
0-460-12609-1
Description
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
].
The roots and stems of all Berberis species contain alkaloids and, when cut open, are a strong yellow colour. This has been utilized by various cultures to make a yellow dye for cloth etc[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, when 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.
], whilst 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.
]. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so should be kept 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.
]. 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[
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.
].
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[
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.
].
Suckers, removed in late autumn/early winter and planted out in situ or potted up and planted out in late spring[
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.
].

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