Medicinal plants

Barberry - cultivation, use and medicinal effects

Barberry - cultivation, use and medicinal effects

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Barberry - vitamin bomb and bird paradise

There are about 15 different types of barberries, originally only common buckthorn (Berberis vulgaris) was native to Germany. The name says it all: the plant bears sour berries and the shoots cover long, pointed thorns. That is why the shrubs are ideal as hedges to deter burglars. Birds like to nest in them because the thorns deter predators.

Appearance of the barberry

They are low to medium-high shrubs. The leaves are elongated or have the shape of an egg. Barwood is brittle and yellowish, the flowers are small and yellow and an excellent bee pasture. Some species have blood red leaves, while others have green leaves that turn yellow and red in autumn.

Sour berries

The shrubs form spherical berries of red to almost black color, which belong to the Sereschk Polo national dish in Iran; In north-eastern Iran, 4,500 tons are harvested annually. The Persian variety Asperma contains no seeds and is therefore easy to process. The berries taste sweet and sour and contain a lot of vitamin C and about 6% acidity - hence the herbal taste.

In Germany, the berries traditionally served as jelly, as an aroma for teas and as a liqueur. Barberry was also considered a medicinal plant and was used for gastrointestinal complaints and diseases of the liver and bile.

An undemanding crop

Sauerdorn is not part of the daily menu in Germany. This is mainly due to the fact that the local fruits have seeds, and the yield of the small berries is therefore difficult to get. In addition, the painful thorns mean that we should only harvest the berries with gloves - and they pierce even ordinary gardening gloves.

Otherwise, the shrub is very suitable as a useful plant for the allotment garden, because it makes hardly any demands. Generally the plant likes sun, but also thrives in partial shade or even in shade.

It only needs a well-drained soil that has a minimum of humus. Otherwise the floor can be acidic or alkaline, dry or moist.

A thorn hedge

Barberries serve as hedges, to green areas or to decorate graves. They are effective for keeping stray dogs or cats away from the garden.

In the natural garden, the plant should not be missing in any hedge and harmonizes optically, in terms of size and properties, very well with hawthorn, firethorn and sloe. It is one of the most valuable shrubs for birds: thrushes are addictive to the berries, and this land of milk and honey offers them nesting grounds and shelter.

A tip: You can easily keep a bird feeder place cat-proof if you place a bird house on a column in a barberry bush or hang feed silos in the bush.


Be careful with the thorns: Wear work gloves with rubber protection or better still special rose gloves. You can get these in garden shops. If you are planting buckthorn, it is advisable to cover the ground with a thick layer of bark mulch. It is no pleasure to pluck out the unwanted herbs between the thorn branches.

Barberries tolerate radical cuts and are therefore ideal as hedge bushes. If you plant a small shrub, you should shorten it by a third, then it will branch well.

The shrubs can be easily cut with a hedge trimmer, preferably once in late summer. You can choose almost any shape and size without the plant resenting it.

Medicinal effects of barberry

The berries have a high level of vitamin C, citric acid such as malic acid and potassium. The fruit acids clean the stomach. The fruits drive sweat, loosen mucus and act against bacteria.

They can be used after infectious diseases to strengthen the body, against toothache and problems with breathing and stomach upset and also with bladder infections, berberis is a proven remedy.

You can dry the fruits and take them in the winter as vitamin drops or add tea blends to make mush or jam. If you have a toothache, you can rub the painful area with the fruit juice.

Root bark

The root bark is even more effective than the fruit. You should refrain from self-testing, however, because the leaves and roots contain alkaloids and are weakly toxic. It is better to use preparations (such as capsules) that you can get in the pharmacy.

The root bark helps against constipation, complaints of the bile, bloating, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, edema and circulatory problems as well as against liver problems, as well as against menstrual problems, since it promotes blood circulation. Overdose can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, kidney pain and nosebleeds.

Eat barberry

Dried or fresh barberries are suitable for seasoning lamb skewers, kouskous, rice and chicken and harmonize with saffron, almonds, nuts and sweet potatoes. Their strong acidity goes well with game dishes such as roast venison or hare's back. With berries, desserts or cakes, the berries go especially well with dark chocolate. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Medicinal herb pages: (access: 03.01.2018), barberry
  • Imenshahidi, Mohsen; Hosseinzadeh, Hossein: "Berberis Vulgaris and Berberine: An Update Review", in: Phytotherapy Research, Volume 30 Issue 1, 2016, Wiley Online Library
  • Biesalski, Hans Konrad; Pirlich, Matthias; Bischoff, Stephan C .; Weimann, Arved: nutritional medicine, Thieme, 2017
  • Medicinal plant knowledge: (accessed: 05.01.2018), barberry
  • Latté, Klaus Peter: "Berberis vulgaris L. - the barberry", in: Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie, Volume 28 Issue 3, 2007, Thieme
  • El-Wahab, Abeer E Abd et al .: "In vitro biological assessment of berberis vulgaris and its active constituent, berberine: antioxidants, anti-acetylcholinesterase, anti-diabetic and anticancer effects", in: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicinevolume 13, 2013 , BMC
  • Bashir, Samra et al .: "Berberis vulgaris Root Bark Extract Prevents Hyperoxaluria Induced Urolithiasis in Rats", in: Phytotherapy Research, Volume 24, Issue 8, 2010, Wiley Online Library
  • Hemgesberg, Hanspeter: Barberry: ..more than “just one (medicinal) plant, Neobooks, 2019
  • Traversier, Rita: Western plants and their effects in TCM, Karl F. Haug, 2014
  • Courtenay, Elfie: Medicinal herbs - Traditional knowledge for medicine cabinet and kitchen: Over 70 outstanding medicinal plants - More than 250 applications and recipes - Extra: Protected and poisonous plants, Mankau Verlag, 2015

Video: Barberry the Invasive Medicine (September 2022).


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  4. Nikolrajas

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