Barberry: useful properties and recipes

Garden decoration, which is also a seasoning for a variety of dishes, and at the same time a cure for diseases. What plant can compare with the versatility of barberry?

Botanical characteristic of barberry

(berberis vulgaris l.), family — berberidaceae

Barberry: a large shrub or small trees adorning city parks and home gardens. A beautiful decorative shrub which has plumb, ribbed shoots of brown or brown-gray color. Elliptical leaves, color depends on the type of plant. Some plant species shed their leaves, some plant species are evergreens. Stipules are prickly, turning into full-length spikes at the base of the shrub. Flowering begins in spring, the berries ripen in autumn. The fruit is a black or red elliptical berry, less often of a round shape, up to 1.5 cm in size.

There are about fifty varieties of barberry. Barberry is found in southern and eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and North America. Some species are found even in Central Asia.

Other names: sour sloe.

Common types of barberry

Among the more than 580 species of barberry, the most popular species are:

Barberry vulgaris Barberry vulgaris Height – from 2 – 3 m.
Leaves – green color. Blooming – yellow inflorescences with sweet aroma.Berries – edible, bright red, elliptical, 1.5 cm in size, sweet-sour taste.Frost-proof, It gets along perfectly even in an arid, urban environment.
Barberry Royal Burgundy Barberry Royal Burgundy Height – up to 1 m.
Foliage – green, bottom with a bluish tinge, turns red in the fall. Flowering – yellow blossoms with red stripes on the outer perianth, lasting about two weeks.Barberry Royal Burgundy – exclusively decorative appearance, the berries are bitter, not fit for human consumption.More often used for the beautification of fences.
Thunberg’s barberry Thunberg's barberry Height – up to 2 m.
The leaves are purple or dark purple, in the fall acquiring a burgundy shade.Blossom – yellow blossoms with red stripes on the outer perianth.The Thunberg’s barberry is bred by selection from both the Barberry Royal Burgundy and the Barberry vulgaris.Grown exclusively as a decorative appearance.

Chemical composition of barberry

Active substances in the plant:

  • Vitamin A, C, E, K;
  • Iron, fiber, potassium;
  • Berberine, Berbamin;
  • Pectin, beta carotene;
  • Natural sugar;
  • Carotenoids (lutein, capsanthin, auroxanthin);
  • Malic, citric, tartaric acid.

In the period of ripening, berries in the leaves form an essential oil.

Barberry health benefits

Barberry has a long history as a medicine. The most valuable property of the barberry is its ability to purify the blood, and of the human organism as a whole. The individual components of the shrub affect the body to varying degrees. For example, iron is responsible for transporting oxygen through all the cells in our body. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that not only strengthens the walls of blood vessels, it also strengthens the immune system (tea with barberry fights against the common cold and will quickly lift you to your feet); as well it stimulates your appetite.

Freshly squeezed juice acts as a laxative, increases appetite, and is an additional remedy for inflammatory processes in the bladder.

In the pharmaceutical industry, berberine is produced from the roots of barberry, one of the ingredients that helps soothe accelerated heartbeats. Compresses with berberine relieve pain in rheumatoid arthritis, radiculitis. In cases of digestive disorders, the leaves of barberry are an effective medicine; therefore, often in the recipes of marinades there are fresh leaves of barberry. Outwardly, fresh leaf juice helps to stop bleeding and increased blood clotting.

Barberry blooming
The blooming of barberry

To summarize, the proofs of medical research:

Skeleton – berberine prevents the development of arthritis and the destruction of mineral density, while strengthening the skeleton.

Heart and blood vessels – prevention of cardiovascular diseases, venous thrombosis. A remedy for edema and to normalize blood pressure.

The brain and nervous system – a neuroprotective effect for epilepsy and convulsions. Calming effect.

The visual system – the treatment of conjunctivitis. Removal of the sensitivity and swelling of the eyes.

Bronchi – prevention of colds and viral diseases.

Gastrointestinal tract – chronic digestive disorders, gastritis, cholecystitis. Useful in the treatment of: obesity, candidiasis, cholera, salmonellosis.

Pancreas – lowering blood sugar levels, increasing insulin sensitivity.

Urogenital system – a diuretic effect, prevention of urolithiasis. Pain relief during menstruation.

Skin – treatment of acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Immunity – immunostimulating and anti-tumor effect, protecting cells from mutation.

The harm of barberry to humans
  1. Pregnancy. The components of the barberry stimulate the contraction of the uterus, and thus the risk of miscarriage increases. Even the low doses recommended for adults can harm the expectant mother and her baby.
  2. Age up to 14 years. The action of the barberry can have a negative effect on the growing body. Therefore, use the barberry and its components only on the recommendation of your attending physician.
  3. Liver diseases – cirrhosis and hepatitis.
  4. Severe bleeding after childbirth.
  5. Individual intolerance to the components of the barberry.
  6. Overeating berries is fraught with side effects: swelling of the skin, nausea, convulsions, bleeding from the nose, and dizziness.
  7. Unripe berries cannot be eaten. Alkaloids in the composition of the barberry can cause poisoning.
Barberry in landscape design
Decorative barberry
Barberry garden decoration

A variety of shrubs amaze with their colors and shapes. Barberry fits perfectly into gardens, city parks and squares.

Decorative barberry species serve as a backdrop for plant-stone flower gardens, surrounded by curbs and flower beds. Low hybrids are suitable for performing Japanese gardens. The color palette is amazing in variety: shades range from yellow, orange, and pink; ending with a rich purple color.

If you are seriously thinking about decorating your garden with barberry, we recommend reading our article: “Barberry: how to plant and care”. In it, we also described safe methods of bush reproduction.

Barberry in cosmetology
Barberry cosmetics benefit
To prepare natural cosmetics with goji berries at home is simple.

Many cosmetic companies have long used barberry components in their products. Most often, the barberry is added to shampoos, anti-wrinkle creams, lotions for moisturizing the skin, as well as body scrubs, masks and gels. Making natural cosmetics at home is very simple:

Face mask: chop fresh berries of barberry and one small apple. Add one tablespoon of sour cream, and one spoonful of oatmeal. Apply the mask for 10 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

Body scrub: chop fresh berries of barberry, add milled coffee or large sea salt. Pour a small amount of coconut oil. Use once a week.

Barberry in cooking
Barberry in cooking
Delicious goji berry jams are healthy!

Fresh berries of barberry are not added to the dishes because of the sour taste. But from them you can make a magnificent jam, so tasty, and also useful.

Barberry jam: Pour the prepared berries in a 2:1 ratio. Boil until cooked (sign of readiness – cracking berries). Catch the finished (bright red) liquid in a separate container; it is very sour to the taste. At this time, knead the cooked berries into a puree, and add to the liquid. Stir the resulting mass, strain again, and throw out the residue. Add sugar (proportions per 1L / 900g of sugar). Boil this liquid until it is thick, then pour it into jars.

Seasoning from barberry is added to soups, pilaf, marinades for meat (as well as young leaves), fish, and salads. Without this spice it’s impossible to cook real eastern pilaf. Fresh berries are used in the preparation of wines and liqueurs.

In addition, freshly made barberry juice will perfectly quench your thirst. At the same time, this juice perfectly strengthens and tones your body.

Barberry juice: Pass fresh berries through a juicer, boil the resulting juice and pour it into jars (after sterilization), close hermetically.

Health recipes with barberry

The ancient Greeks knew a lot about herbs. . They treated wounded soldiers with barberry, stopped bleeding, etc. But be careful! The plant contains potent components. It is strongly recommended to consult with your doctor before use!

When treating conjunctivitis add 5-7 drops of liquid extract to warm boiled water. Rinse 1-2 times a day until you recover.

Barberry tea. Diseases of the digestive tract. Healing of the liver. Immunity.

  • Dried berries (1 tsp) pour boiling water (250 ml). Leave on for 15 – 20 minutes. Add liquid honey to taste. You can add a couple of berries to ordinary black / green tea – a great alternative to lemon.
Barberry tea
Barberry tea tones and treats digestive disorders.

Compress. Rheumatism, arthritis.

  • Peeled barberry root compress: Cook for 30 minutes. Cool, remove root. Add 100 ml of alcohol. Apply compress to sore spots.

Mouthwash. For inflammation.

  • 2 tbsp. dried berries / 250 ml. boiling water.
    Mix the ingredients. Leave for 4 hours. Continue rinsing in the morning and in the evening until the inflammation subsides.
Interesting facts about barberry
  • Yellow paint is made from barberry wood.
  • In the library of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian king, clay tablets made 650 years BC, were found. They mention the barberry as a medicine “cleansing the blood“.


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