Oregon grape, Berberis aquifolium

I was out walking in my Amsterdam neighborhood today and as usual noticed lots of Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) in landscaped areas. Every time I see this plant, I remember reading about how it is edible and in fact, a highly regarded herb. I have never used it but decided to learn and share a little about it today.

You can easily find out lots of information regarding this herb on the Internet or in books. It’s a herb with quite a history, being the state plant of Oregon. I find the most interesting facts are that:

1. It is a powerful liver stimulant and cleanser.
2. The roots are bright yellow and highly regarded by herbalists seeking a strong stimulant effect.
It doesn’t really sound like a herb for me because of this potency. Tonics tend to be much safer and more appropriate for adding to everyday meals.
3. It must be avoided by those who already tax their systems, for instance by eating lots of heavy meals.
4. The berries are black, obvious and plentiful when autumn arrives. They are very rich in vitamin c and have a very bitter taste.

I’ll be sampling the berries in autumn and will post more Oregon grape entries on Boskoi. I’m thinking of adding a handful to a Rumpot. It has obviously been an Amsterdam landscape architect’s favorite over the years consequently there are plenty of dense Oregon grape plantings in town.

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