Holly-Leaf Barberry
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Holly-Leaf Barberry
E Naturalized Photo: Akhtar Malik
Common name: Holly-Leaf Barberry, Oregon grape
Botanical name: Berberis aquifolium    Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry family)
Synonyms: Mahonia aquifolium

Holly-Leaf Barberry is an evergreen shrub, 0.3-3 m tall. Bark of 2nd-year stems gray-brown or purplish, hairless. Spines are absent. Leaves are 5-9-foliolate; leaf-stalks 1-6 cm. Leaflets are thin and flexible or rather rigid; surfaces below glossy, smooth, above glossy, green; end leaflet stalked, blade 5.1-8.7 x 2.4-4.5 cm, 1.7-2.5 times as long as wide; lateral leaflet blades lance-ovate to lance-elliptic, 1-3-veined from base, base blunt or flat, rarely weakly heart-shaped, margins plane or wavy, toothed, each with 5-21 teeth 0-2 mm tipped with spines to 0.8-2.2 x 0.2-0.3 mm, tip pointed or sometimes blunt or rounded. Yellow flowers are borne in dense, 30-60-flowered racemes, 3-9 cm; bracteoles membranous, tip rounded or blunt, sometimes apiculate. Flowers: anther filaments with distal pair of recurved lateral teeth. Berries are blue, glaucous, oblong-ovoid, 6-10 mm, juicy, solid. Holly-Leaf Barberry is native to SW Canada to N California, cultivated and naturalized in many parts of the world, including Kashmir.
Medicinal uses: Oregon grape was often used by several native North American Indian tribes to treat loss of appetite and debility. Its current herbal use is mainly in the treatment of gastritis and general digestive weakness, to stimulate the kidney and gallbladder function and to reduce catarrhal problems.

Identification credit: Akhtar Malik Photographed in Kashmir University, Srinagar.

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