(From the Arabic term berberi, wild). Called also oxyacantha Galeni, spina acida, crespinus, crispinus; piperidge or piperage bush, and barberry. The berbtris vulgaris Lin. Sp. Pi. 471. Nat. order trihilatae.
It is a large prickly bush, with brittle branches, covered with an ash coloured bark, under which lies another of a deep yellow colour. Some of the individuals have no seeds in their berries; and sometimes berries with and without seeds are found on one bush. It grows wild on chalky hills, flowers in May, and its fruit ripens in September.
The fruit is a mild restringent acid, useful in hot bilious disorders, and colliquative putrescent state of the fluids. The leaves have the same virtues as the berries, but in less degree. The inner yellow bark is austere and bitterish, gently purgative, and supposed to be useful in the jaundice. The bark of the root is mildly astringent. These barks do not keep long, and are best used by infusing one ounce of bark in a pint of water.
Simon Paulli recommends an essential salt of barberries under the appellation of tartar of barberries. Two ounces of lemon juice are added to two pints of the juice of barberries: they are digested, the liquor evaporated, and the salt suffered to crystallize. A jelly of barberries is made in the usual way. The vicinity of the barberry tree has been accused of communicating the fungus, on which what is called the rust depends, to wheat; and it was long since observed that the ears of corn in its neighbourhood were barren.