Barberry - Encyclopedia


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BARBERRY (Berberis vulgaris), a shrub with spiny-toothed leaves, which on the woody shoots are reduced to forked spines, and pale yellow flowers in hanging racemes, which are succeeded by orange-red berries. It is a member of the botanical natural order Berberidaceae, and contains about loo species in the north temperate zone and in the Andes of South America extending into Patagonia. The order is nearly allied to the buttercup order in having the parts of the flowers all free and arranged in regular succession below the ovary which consists of only one carpel. It is distinguished by having the sepals, petals and stamens. in multiples of 2, 3 or 4, never of 5. The berries of Berberis are edible; those of the native barberry are sometimes made into preserves. The alkaloid berberine occurs in the roots.

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