Common barberry: useful properties, cultivation and care

Common barberry has long been used in cooking and folk medicine. All parts of the plant are used for the preparation of medicines, decoctions and infusions used in folk medicine.


  • Biological features
  • Chemical composition and calorie content
  • Cooking applications
  • Healing properties
  • Agrotechnics

Biological features

Common barberry is a deciduous shrub with thorns. It has the ability to branch strongly and rarely exceeds a couple of meters in height. Its thin branches initially have a yellowish bark, which turns gray as it ages. Spiny cilia are located at the edges of the oblong leaves. The plant blooms in May-June and is accompanied by a strong aroma. Light yellow flowers are collected in 15-20 pieces in drooping racemes. Ripening of berries lasts from July to October. They are bright red in color, sour taste, juicy flesh and few seeds. By weight, the fruits usually do not exceed 4 grams.

In the wild, Barberry is found everywhere in the forest-steppe zone of Russia and Ukraine, in the Crimea and the Caucasus. It grows on light and dry forest edges, lawns, mountain slopes, river gravels. It is ruthlessly destroyed near grain fields, as parasites develop on it, causing the appearance of rust on cereals. The shrub is grown for medicinal raw materials, berries and hedges and for decorative purposes. It is an excellent honey plant.

Chemical composition and calorie content

Common barberry contains more than 10 alkaloids, including berberine, columbamine, palmitine, and jatroricin. More than 14% of this plant consists of fruit acids, among which malic acid prevails. Among other acids, it should be noted:

  • wine;
  • amber;
  • fumaric;
  • coffee shop;
  • cinchona;
  • chlorogenic (has the ability to burn fat).

Barberry fruits also contain large amounts of ascorbic acid, sugars, retinol and phenolic compounds, pectins and tannins. Of the trace elements contained in them, it is worth noting potassium and magnesium, which are necessary for the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system, calcium, manganese, iron and silicon.

The calorie content of barberry berries is approximately 30 kcal per 100 grams of product, and they are pure carbohydrates, since they do not contain either fat or protein. For many of us, the word barberry is associated with the candies of the same name, and not at all with berries, so it will be useful to know that their calorie content is about 10 times higher, since they contain too much sugar.

Cooking applications

Ripe fresh and dried barberries are an excellent addition to meat sauces, pilaf, barbecue marinade. Young leaves of the plant can successfully replace sorrel, since they are a source of vitamin C, which is especially important in early spring. They make delicious green cabbage soup and wonderful salads. Barberry juice is a worthy alternative to lemon juice. The berries make wonderful jam, delicious jelly, sour marmalade. Barberry liqueurs, liqueurs and wines have a peculiar flavor, and kvass perfectly quenches thirst.

Healing properties

All parts of the plant are harvested as medicinal raw materials. The alkaloid berberine, contained in unripe berries and roots, has a choleretic effect and is useful in diseases of the liver and gallbladder. It is used to lower blood pressure and slow heart activity. Tincture of the leaves causes uterine contractions and squeezing of blood vessels, helping to stop uterine bleeding.

A decoction of roots and bark has antimicrobial, analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects. It is used to treat colds and respiratory tract infections. All parts of the plant have a wound healing effect. Homeopathy recommends barberry for the treatment of kidney and urinary tract, peptic ulcer disease, diarrhea, hemorrhoids. On the basis of various parts of this shrub, anticancer and anti-tuberculosis drugs are prepared.


Common barberry is a rather unpretentious plant. It can grow in partial shade and even in the shade, but it gives consistently high yields of berries only in a sunny place. It can be grown from seeds by sowing them directly into the soil or a box before winter, which will be stored in a cool place until spring. Cutting, dividing a bush or dropping layers are also allowed. When planting, organic fertilizer must be applied to the soil. Like all bushes, barberry greatly impoverishes the soil, so every year in the spring it must be fed with compost or manure, having previously loosened the soil, and in the fall with superphosphate. To create a hedge, you need to plant bushes at a distance of 0.4 m from each other, for ripening berries - 1.5-2 m.

The plant needs moderate watering (about once a week) and does not tolerate waterlogging of the soil. In spring and autumn, pruning should be carried out to avoid thickening of the bush, old and underdeveloped branches are removed. Throughout the growing season, it is necessary to weed and loosen the soil near the bushes. For the winter, in the first years of life, it is better to cover the plant with dry leaves or spruce branches so that it does not freeze out.

Watch the video: Japanese Barberry Identification (December 2021).