Herbs & Plants

Berberis Gagnepainii

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Botanical Name : Berberis gagnepainii
Family : Berberidaceae
Genus  : Berberis
Synonyms : Berberis acuminata – non Franch.
Common Name:Berries gagnepainii C.K. Schneid.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales

Habitat : E. Asia – China in Sichuan Thickets and woodlands, 2000 – 4000 metres.Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedge;

An evergreen Shrub growing to 2.4m by 2m.The genus is characterised by dimorphic shoots, with long shoots which form the structure of the plant, and short shoots only 1-2 mm long. The leaves on long shoots are non-photosynthetic, developed into three-spined thorns 3-30 mm long; the bud in the axil of each thorn-leaf then develops a short shoot with several normal, photosynthetic leaves. These leaves are 1-10 cm long, simple, and either entire, or with spiny margins. Only on young seedlings do leaves develop on the long shoots, with the adult foliage style developing after the young plant is 1-2 years old.


It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Prefers a warm moist loamy soil and light shade but it is by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A number of cultivars have been selected for their ornamental value. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they resprout well from the base.

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[78], 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, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, preferably with a heel, October/November in a frame. Suckers, removed in late autumn/early winter and planted out in situ or potted up and planted out in late spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit.

Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruits are about 10mm long.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Antibacterial; Cancer.

Berberine, universally present in rhizomes 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 with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.

Other Uses
Dye; Hedge.

The plant makes an impenetrable hedge that can be trimmed or left to its own devices[29, 182, 200]. A yellow dye is obtained from the root.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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