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Berberis lycium Royle

Modern name

Berberis lycium Royle

A deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub, of spreading habit, 6 or 8 ft high; young shoots furnished with fine down. Leaves narrowly obovate, light green above, glaucous beneath, varying in length in each tuft from 34 to 2 in. with a few teeth towards the apex, or with none, but always spine-tipped. Spines three-parted, 12 to 34 in. long. Racemes 2 to 3 in. in length, carrying from twelve to thirty flowers, each 13 in. across, bright yellow. Berries 25 in. long, oblong, covered with a fine blue-purple bloom. Bot. Mag., t. 7075.

Native of the Himalaya, and quite hardy at Kew, where it flowers in May and June. It was in cultivation there in 1853, and had probably been introduced by Sir Joseph Hooker a few years previously. This plant yields the drug known as ‘Lycium’, used for ages in inflammatory affections of the eyes. The beautiful purplish berries are eaten in N. India. It is a species distinct in the hard, pale green leaves, conspicuously net-veined above, glaucous beneath, and almost entire.



Other species in the genus