Barberry, which is native to Europe and the British isles, is a perennial herb (and pernicious weed) that grows to between 8 and 12 feet tall. Barberry has been naturalized to temperate zones around the world, including the United States. It has thorny branches, and produces yellow flowers, red or black berries, and small round leaves with serrated edges which group in clusters of 2 to 5 leaves. The fruit is very bitter and sour. The berries make a good bitter to stimulate digestion before a meal. It likes sunny locations and sandy soil. If one had a time machine, Barberry could be found in many herbal apothecaries throughout Europe and the Biritish Isles, in those days it was used externally, as creams and salves to treat acne, and Internally, as teas, tinctures, and capsules to support gastrointestinal issues, high blood sugar, and coughs.
History and Folklore:
Barberry is host to the wheat rust fungus which infects wheat and other grasses. Therefore, cultivation of Barberry is illegal in Canada and some northern states of the United States.
Cultivation and Harvest:
Harvest root bark in the spring or early autumn. Harvest tree bark in the fall and early winter. When harvesting standing Barberry bark, peel only one side of the tree or branch allowing the tree to heal and continue to grow. You can also harvest tree bark by pruning small branches and taking the bark from them. Obviously, harvesting root bark is harder on the bush. Do this in moderation. Bark collected from dead or dying trees is of no use medicinally. Grind the root and/or tree bark into a powder for use in creams, tinctures, teas, and capsules.
Do not use if pregnant. Not for use in infants who have signs of jaundice.
Traditional Herbal Actions:
Antimicrobial, Aperient, Cholagogue, Antiemetic, Bitter, Hepatic, Alterative, Astringent
Pipperidge Bush, Holy Thorn, Witches Sweets, Huang Lian, Chinese Goldthread
Tincture Ingredients: Barberry (Berberis vulgarus)
*These statements have not been verified by the FDA and is only referenced here as a fun fact and/or for historical commentary, is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Consult your doctor before ingesting any herbal product.
None of these items or statements are approved by FDA. Consult your physician before taking any supplement. Do not take herbs or tinctures during pregnancy without consulting your healthcare provider. This product is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. All information here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.