Herbs & Plants

Berberis asiatica

Botanical Name: Berberis asiatica
Family: Berberidaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Berberis

Synonyms: Berberis hypoleuca, Berberis asiatica var. clarkeana

Common names: Asian Barberry,Chutro, Rasanjan (Nep); Marpyashi

Hindi: Dar-hald, Daruhaldi, Kasmal
Malayalam: Chutro, Dar, Githa
Marathi: Daruhaldi
Sanskrit: Daru, Daruharidra
Tamil: Uchikkala

Habitat: Berberis asiatica is native to E. Asia – Himalayas It grows on grassy and rocky slopes up to 2500 metres. Found in heavy shade, on north-facing slopes and on open hillsides in the drier areas.

Berberis asiatica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in) at a medium rate, with pale yellow branches, and thick rigid evergreen leaves with usually 2-5 spiny teeth, shining dark grcen above and greyish beneath. Flowers pale yellow, in somewhat flat-topped clusters shorter than the leaves, with red hairless stalks; petals obovate, notched, 5-7 rnm. Leaves ovate to elliptic. 1.8-7.5 cm; stem splnes 1- 1.5 cm. Fruit is glaucous, dark purple, oblong-ovoid, 8 mrn. Fruit edible. Fruit – raw or dried and used like raisins. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins. Asian Barberry is found in the Himalayas, from Uttarakhand to SW China, at altitudes of 1200-2500 m. Flowering: March-May.


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. Plants are often found growing in dense shade in the wild. Plants are generally very hardy and fruit abundantly in Britain. They grow very well in Cornwall. In colder areas of the country they are apt to be cut to the ground in severe winters, though they resprout well from the base. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. This species is often offered under the names of B. chitria or B. glaucocarpa. Plants can be pruned back quite severely, they resprout well from the base.

Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or dried and used like raisins. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins. Fully ripe fruits are fairly juicy with a pleasantly acid flavour, though there are rather a lot of seeds. The fruit is abundantly produced in Britain. The fruit is about 8mm long.

Medicinal uses:
The roots are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers etc. The roots contain 2.1% berberine, the stems 1.3%. The bark and wood are crushed in Nepal then boiled in water, strained and the liquid evaporated until a viscous mass is obtained. This is antibacterial, laxative and tonic. It is taken internally to treat fevers and is used externally to treat conjuctivitis and other inflammations of the eyes. Tender leaf buds are chewed and held against affected teeth for 15 minutes to treat dental caries. The fruit is cooling and laxative. 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:
A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and stems. The spiny branches are used to make fencing around fields in Nepal

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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