Indian Barberry
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Indian Barberry
ative Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Indian Barberry, Tree Turmeric, chitra • Hindi: chitra, chotra, dar-chob, dar-hald • Kannada: baagi soothra, bagisutra • Malayalam: kasturimanjal, maradarisina • Marathi: daruhalad • Sanskrit: Daruharidra, Darvi, Darurajani, Darhald • Tamil: kasturimanjal • Telugu: daruharidra, kasthoori pushpa, kasturipaspu • Urdu: aarghis, darhald, darhald nim kofta
Botanical name: Berberis aristata    Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry family)
Synonyms: Berberis coccinea, Berberis macrophylla

Indian Barberry is characterized by an erect spiny shrub, 2-3 m in height. It is a woody plant, with bark that appears yellow to brown from the outside and deep yellow from the inside. The bark is covered with three-branched thorns, which are modified leaves, and can be removed by hand in longitudinal strips. The leaves are arranged in tufts of 5-8 and are approximately 4.9 cm long and 1.8 cm broad. The leaves are deep green on the dorsal surface and light green on the ventral surface. The leaves are simple with pinnate venation. The leaves are leathery in texture and are toothed, with several to many small indentations along the margin of the leaf. The yellow flowers that develop are 1.2 cm, in a racemose inflorescence, with 11-16 flowers per raceme, arranged along a central stem. The flower is polysepalous, with 3 large and 3 small sepals, and polypetalous, with 6 petals in total. Flowers have 6 stamens, 5-6 mm long. The plant produces bunches of succulent, acidic, edible berries that are bright red in color and have medicinal properties. The berries are approximately 7 mm long, 4 mm in diameter and weigh about 227 mg.
Medicinal uses: Tree Turmeric is a revered herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It is claimed to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and antiseptic properties, the herb is used as a cholagogue, stomachic, laxative and diaphoretic.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale, G.S.Goraya Photographed in the Great Hinalayan National Park, HImachal Pradesh.

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