Herbs & Plants

Berberis lycium

Botanical Name: Berberis lycium
Family: Berberidaceae
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Berberis

Common names: Indian Lycium, Indian Barberry, Boxthorn Barberry

  • Hindi: Darhaldi, Chatrol • Kumaon: Kirmora
  • Urdu: Ishkeen, Kushmul, Zarch
  • Gujarati: Kasmal

Habitat: Berberis lycium is native to E. Asia – Himalayas. It grows on the open hillsides, usually on hot dry slopes, to 3000 metres. in Kashmir.

Berberis lycium is an evergreen semi deciduous shrub, 2-4 m high, leaves lanceolate or narrowly obovate-oblong, entire or with a few large spinous teeth, arranged alternately on stem. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. Inflorescence a raceme, flowers yellow born in axillary clusters longer than the leaves. Fruit, berries, black. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.


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 fairly hardy plant but it suffers some damage in severe winters. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they resprout well from the base

Edible Uses:
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked and made into preserves. Fairly juicy with a nice slightly acid flavour. The fruits are about 8mm long. Leaves and young shoots – cooked. Leaves are a tea substitute.

Medicinal uses:
The roots are aperient, carminative, febrifuge and ophthalmic. They are used in the treatment of eye complaints, menorrhagia, chronic diarrhoea and piles. The leaves have been used in the treatment of jaundice. 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.

Unverified information : Indian Lycium’s roots are used as remedy for swollen and sore eyes, broken bones, wounds, gonorrhea, curative piles, unhealthy ulcers, acute conjunctive and in chronic opthalmia, also used as bitter tonic astringent, diaphoretic and febrifuge. Leaves are given in jaundice.

Other Uses: 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 supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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