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A family of dicotyledonous herbs and shrubs in the order Ranunculales characterized by alternate leaves, perfect, well-developed flowers, and a seemingly solitary carpel.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of dicotyledonous plants. They are perennial grasses, shrubs, or small trees. The flowers are monoecious and tripartite, rarely bi- or quadripartite. The perianth is double and more or less differentiated into a calyx and corolla; occasionally it is entirely absent. The flowers are in clustered, paniculate, and other inflorescences; occasionally the flowers are single. Many Berberidaceae develop petal-like nectaries called staminodia between the petals and the stamens. The plants have superior ovaries. The fruit is a berry, or, more rarely, a pod or is nutlike. There are approximately 650 species of Berberidaceae, for the most part in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. The presence of alkaloids, particularly berberin, is characteristic of the Berberidaceae. Among the Berberidaceae are many medicinal, decorative, and fruit-bearing varieties. In the USSR there are seven genera and approximately 30 wild species. The basic genera are Berberis, Epimedium, lion’s leaf, and others.


[Fedchenko, B. A.] “Barbarisovye.” In Flora SSSR, vol. 7. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.