Botanical Name: Berberis cooperi
Family : Berberidaceae
Species Berberis cooperi Ahrendt
Synonyms: Berberis lasioclema Ahrendt
Habitat: Berberis cooperi is native to E. Asia – Bhutan. It grows on the Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Berberis cooperi is a deciduous shurb. It grows 1 to 2 meter,stem is strongly grooved,yellowish, spines 1-1.5cm. Leaves obovate, 1.5-3.5 x 0.7-1.5cm,acute or obtuse, mucronate , base attenuate,margins usuallly spinose-dentate. Inflorescence at least in part shortly racemose,peduncles 0.7-1.5cm, 2-3-flowered, otherwise fasciculate, pedicels 1-2cm, finely pubescent. Sepals oblanceolate or obovate up to 6-7 x 3-4mm, sometimes with 1or2 of the outermost half as large, Petals obovate, 5-5.5 x 3.5-4mm. Ovules 3-4.Berries red, broadly ellipsoid or subglobose, c 8 x 7-8mm, with short styles.
Leaves are alternate,simple or 1-pinnate, herbaceous or coriaceous,exstipulate. Flowers solitary or several to many in fascicles or racemes,bisexual,actinomorphic.Sepals and petals similar,usually 6 of each in whorls of 3,free,yellow or greenish,sometimes tinged with red,petals with 2 oblong glands near base.Stamens 6,slightly adnate to base of petals,anthers opening by valves.Ovary consisting of a single carpel, superior,ovules few,basal,style short or absent,stigma rounded.Fruit a berry.
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. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants can be pruned back quite severely and resprout well from the base.
Through 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, 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.
Fruit are edible, eaten – raw or cooked. An acid taste, but it is pleasant raw in small quantities.
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 root.
All parts of the plant contain the alkaloid berberine – this is most concentrated in the roots, stems and inner bark, and least concentrated in the fruits. In small quantities berberine has a range of effective medicinal applications but, in excess, can cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lethargy, and other ill-effects.
The fruit of most, if not all, members of this genus are more or less edible and can be eaten in quantity since the levels of berberine in the fruit are very low.
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.