You are here: News & Articles South Khorasan Province, biggest producer of barberry in Iran

South Khorasan Province, biggest producer of barberry in Iran

Seedless barberry [Berberis vulgaris (L.) var. asperma] is member of family Berberidaceae. It has been widely used as a food additive. In Iran more than 5,000 tonnes of barberries are produced each year. Khorasan, located at the northeastern Iran, is the production center with about 6,000 hectares of field growing barberry. Each year, more than 4,500 tonnes are harvested in Khorasan region alone.

Normal or seedless barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is the fruit of a shrub which is 3-6 meters high with reddish fragile branches that tend brown. It has leathery leaves that are egg-shaped and little red fruits in the form of clusters hanging from the branches. Barberries contain organic acids and phenol compounds that contain anthocyanin and carotenoide pigments as well as phenolase, polyphenolase and glycosidase enzymes.

Mention has been made of barberry in writings of the medieval times (medical books in southern Italy) and probably its origin is Arabic. It seems that Simon Janunsi was the first person who acquainted people with the Arabic name "berberis" in the 8th century. Barberry wood and possibly its fruit were used in the Himalayan slopes since ancient times and in the first century A.C. the Greeks were familiar with its extract which they termed Indian Licium, and the Arabs called it Honduras.

Historical testimonies show that Rhazes was the first person to know about the medical properties of this plant and he advised drinking barberry juice for treating fever, thirst, and inflammation. In Iran people drink barberry juice and use its fruit in preparing food, jam, pickles, syrups, round flat candy, dried barberry concentrate, and Sohan Asali (a traditional Iranian sweet). In recent years in order to make industrial use of  barberries much research has been conducted on preparing different products such as beverages, sauce, jelly, candy , pastilles ,colored edible powder etc. from barberries. Due to their cold and dry nature, barberries are used to reinforce the heart and liver, as an analgesic for the stomach and anticoagulant and their leaves are used in affections  resulting from the lack of Vitamin C, to treat gastric ulcer, treating diarrhea, edema, and treating scurvy. Based on more studies, the majority of the medical properties of barberries are related to the different alkaloids existing in the different parts of this plant. In Iran, Southern Khorasan province and mainly the cities of Qaen and Birjand are the most important regions where barberries are produced and around 95% of the country's barberries are produced in these 2 cities. The Province's annual barberry production is more than 8400 tons that is obtained from orchards in some 6442 hectares of area.

Seedless barberry is best cultivated in areas that are over 1500 meters above sea level.

Production of seedless barberry as a garden product is confined to South Khorasan province, however, seeded barberries grow in various parts of the world. Seedless barberry is resistant to cold weather and grows well in mountain areas with cold winters. Decorative barberry species appear in three categories i.e. perishable, ever green and semi ever green. Yellowish-orange flowers and reddish-bluish-purple fruits hang from the beautiful shrubs of barberry. In fall, you can observe shift of colors in the branches of shrubs which appear in heights ranging from 30 centimeters to 5.2 meters. These shrubs can be used for decorative purposes.