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Monday, November 16, 2015

Barberry - 'Berberis Vulgaris' - fam: Berberidaceae

Berberis, is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1 – 5 m (3.3 – 16.4 ft) tall, found throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world, apart from Australia. Species diversity is greatest in South America, Africa and Asia, with Europe and North America having native species, as well. The most well-known Berberis species, of many, is the so-called European Barberry, Berberis vulgaris, which is common in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia. Many of the species have spines on the shoots and along the margins of the leaves.

Berberis vulgaris grows in the wild, in much of Europe, and West Asia. It produces large crops of edible berries, rich in vitamin C, but with a sharp acid flavour. In Europe for many centuries, the berries were used for culinary purposes, in ways comparable to how citrus peel might be used. Today, in Europe, they are very infrequently used.

The country in which they are used most frequently today, is Iran, where they are referred to as "Zereshk", زرشک, in Persian. The berries are common in Iranian cuisine, such as in rice pilafs, known as "Zereshk Polo", and as a flavouring for poultry meat. Due to their inherent sour flavour, they are sometimes cooked with sugar before being added to Persian rice. Persian markets sell Zereshk dried.

In Russia, they are sometimes used in jams, especially the mixed berry ones, and its extract is a common flavouring for soft drinks and candies.

Berberis microphylla, known as Calafate, and B. darwinii, Michay, are two species found in Patagonia, in Argentina and Chile. Their edible purple fruits are used for jams, and infusions. Anyone who tries a berry is said to be certain to return to Patagonia. The Calafate and Michay are symbols of Patagonia. 1

REFERENCE: 1 - Wikipedia - Berberis.


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