Also Known As: Barberry, Berberis, Pepperidge bushes
Berberis, the barberries or pepperidge bushes, is a genus of about 450-500 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall with thorny shoots, native to the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They are closely related to the genus Mahonia, which is included within Berberis by some botanists. Species diversity is greatest in South America, Africa and Asia; Europe has a few species, and North America only two.
The dried fruit of berberis vulgaris, generally simply known as Barberry, is used as a herbal medicine. The active ingredients in barberries are thought to be the isoquinolone alkaloids, especially berberine (also found, in higher concentrations, in the traditional Chinese medicine herb Coptis chinensis).