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Pakistan | Family List | Berberidaceae | Berberis

Berberis lycium Royle in Trans. Linn. Soc. 17:94. 1834. Hook. f., Bot. Mag.t.7075.1889; Hook.f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 1:110.1872 (partly); Collett, Fl. Siml. 22.1902; Parker, For. Fl. Punj. rep. ed. : 14.1958 (partly); Ahrendt in J. Linn. Soc. Bot. 57:87.1961.

Vern.: Zarch.

Shrub, 2-3(-4) m tall, erect or suberect, semideciduous; stem and branches pale, whitish to greyish, terete to subsulcate, glabrescent, younger ones obscurely to distinctly puberulous; internodes 1.5-3.5 cm long; spines (1-)3-fid, (6-)10-20 mm long, yellowish to straw-coloured. Leaves oblanceolate to oblong-obovate, (2-) 3-6 cm long, 6-12 mm broad, subsessile, usually conspicuously papillose, grey or white below, entire to 2-4 spinulose at the margins, acute to subacuminate, openly veined. Racemes (6-)10-25-flowered, 3-6(-7) cm long, rarely shorter and subfascicled (2-2.5 cm.). Flowers 6-8 mm across, usually pale-yellow; pedicels 6-12(-15) mm long, rarely longer, slender, thin, glabrous; bracts 2-2.5 mm. long. Prophylls c. 1 mm long, ovate, reddish. Outer sepals much smaller than the middle and inner sepals; inner sepals 4.5-5 mm long, 3 mm broad, obovate. Petals slightly shorter than the inner sepals, obovate, emarginate, with lanceolate basal glands. Stamens slightly shorter than petals, connectives produced or anthers apiculate. Ovules usually 4, shortly stipitate. Berries 7-8 mm long, c. 5 mm broad, ovoid or obovoid-subglobose, excluding 1 mm long style, blackish with heavy grey-white bloom; seeds 3-4 mm long.

Fl. Per. April-June.

Type: Kashmir, Royle (K, LIV).

Distribution: Kashmir, Pakistan and N. W. Himalayas.

A variable species said to have replaced Berberis ceratophylla G. Don in Kashmir and Western Himalayas and itself to be replaced by Berberis parkeriana Schneid. in the bordering areas of Kashmir and Pakistan. The varieties subfascicularis Ahrendt and subvirescens Ahrendt with shorter, 5-15-flowered inflorescences, racemose to subfascicled, seem to be only variants of the species, the former with leaves like the type variety but the latter with leaves dull greenish below. They are based on single gatherings, Ludlow & Sherriff 9105 (BM) and Ludlow & Sherriff 8095 (BM) respectively, collected from Kashmir.

A brown extract from its roots and lower parts of stem is called ‘Rasaunt’ and is mixed with water for use as cooling agent or tonic. It is also used as an eye lotion.


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