Family: Berberidaceae

Synonym: Berberis afghanica, Berberis angustifolia, Berberis heteracanth, Berberis vulgaris.

Common name: Indian Lycium, Indian Barberry, Boxthorn Barberry.

Local Name:  kasmalae (कसमले), Daruhaldi.

Kasmalae is a gregarious spiny, shrub abundantly found growing on open hill slopes and shrubberies, up to an altitude of 2,500 m in Western Himalaya. It usually grows well on hot dry slopes.

All the parts of this plant viz fruits, leaves, flowers, flower buds, young shoot and roots are edible and can be eaten either raw or cooked. People use kasmalae for edible purpose  mainly for harnessing their rich medicinal and nutritive value. Fruits are mostly preferred by children. They eat ripe fruits during their play. Fruits are rich source of nutrients specially minerals. So, these are also dried for later use and normally used like raisins. Ripe fruits can be a good addition to desserts, puddings and ‘rayata’. Flower and buds are used to prepare sauce, ‘chutney’, ‘rayata’ and ‘kachru’ locally. Tender leaves and young shoots are ground and cooked with potato as a vegetable. Leaves both fresh and dried are also used as a tea substitute. Sometime people use kasmalae roots for local alcoholic preparation for their personal use only.

kasmalae in full bloom.

                 Kasmalae is quite familiar plant for the local people of Western Himalaya because they exploit roots of this plant in large scale for their local and commercial medicinal uses. Roots and its dried extract are used to make “Rasaunt” in Ayurvedic medicine 1,2. So, these are in great demand and are good source of earning for local people. Although its extraction is sustainably managed by state forest department. As per discussion of this writer with the Divisional Forest Officer of district Mandi Himachal Pradesh Shri S.S. Kashyap, Daruhaldi is  a great source of revenue for the  state government and an easy source of earning for local people.  Its harvesting is totally controlled by H.P.  forest regulation act 1992 and local people have to take permission for commercial harvesting of this plant. People can harvest kasmalae roots phase wise from their private land only after 10 years on basis of habitat rotation.

       Kasmalae leaves are grazed by sheep and goats, it is one of favourite fodder plant for these domestic animals.  

Negative aspect of kasmalae is  that it is an alternate host of the black stem-rust fungus (Puccinia graminis tritici) causing disease Black Stem Rust of wheat. This is a major disease of wheat crop in hills and can spread from infected Kasmalae plant to the healthy wheat grain crops both in hills as well in plains, therefore reduces crop yield significantly.

Plant is usually harvested from wild habitat as a source of food, fuel, fodder and medicine by the inhabitants of this region for their local and commercial use. Kasmalae can be grown as an ornamental plant for its beautiful yellow flowers and for nutritious fruits in gardens. Being spiny it can also be used as a live fence to demarcate boundaries and exclude stray animals from cultivated land. Plant can be propagated by seeds and cuttings, preferably in autumn season of the year.

Kasmalae plant:

Plant is spiny, gregarious, semi-deciduous shrubs, up to 3 m tall.

Stem terete or angled to subsulcate, pale greyish, glabrous or pubescent with short internodes bearing spines.

Leaves sessile, tough, lanceolate or narrowly obovate-oblong, mucronate, glaucous beneath, with prominent reticulate veins.

Close-up of kasmalae flowering shoot

Racemes usually simple, generally exceeding the leaves.

Flowers dull- yellow. Berries ovoid, blue or black covered with grey white bloom; style 1 mm long.

Edible leaves and roots can be harvested round the year, but roots should be harvested when flowering and fruiting is over. Edible flowers and fruits of this plant can be best harvested from spring to autumn season of the year. To promote sustainable harvesting these should be collected on habitat rotation basis.

Edible Uses:

Almost all the plant parts of kasmalae are edible. Leaves and young shoots are cooked into vegetable along with potato, Fruits are edible both raw or cooked. Ripe fruits are added to desserts, puddings etc. Flower and flower buds are used in chutney, kachru, rayata and sauces, while roots are used to prepare local alcoholic drink for personal use by local people.

Harvesting kasmalae flowers.



Tender leaves and shoot of kasamale, 1/2 kg; chopped potatoes in cubical shape, 1 kg: mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies , 2-3; chopped medium sized onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon; meshed tomatoes, 3-4; milk cream, 2-3 spoon, and salt, according to taste.


Boil chopped leaves and shoot of kasmalae and ground in a mixer. In hot mustard oil saute potatoes along with spices listed above in a sequence. Cook till they are soft and add to it ground paste of kasmalae leaves and shoot. Cook for 5 minutes, garnish with coriander leaves and garam masala then serve.

kasmalae ground leaf vegetable ready to serve

Kasmalae fruits desserts:


Kasmalae fruits and other chopped fruits acc.  to taste,1/2kg; curd, 1kg; sweetener like honey/ sugar/ condensed milk, 1-3 tea spoon; cardamom powder,1/4 tea spoon; black salt according to taste.


Take curd in a bowl. Add to it sweetener according to choose and stir well. Add cardamom powder, black salt, Kasmalae fruits and other chopped fruits according to preference. Mix well and serve.



Kasmalae flower buds, 250 g; Tomatoes, 1/2kg; Brown sugar, 3-5 tea spoon; Red chilies, powder 1 tea spoon; Vinegar, 3 table spoon, black salt, ¼ tea spoon.


Boil tomatoes in low flame till they are soft. Grind tomatoes along with kasmalae flower buds in a mixer and strain in a container. In a hot pan cook ground tomato and flower bud puree in low flame for 3-5 minutes. Add to it red chilies powder, black salt, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Let it cool down and place in a ceramic container.



To prepare chutney, take 100 gm kasmalae flower buds, 100 gm chopped mint leaves, 50 gm anardana or amchoor, 5-6 green chillies, 20 gm coriander leaves/ curry leaves, 2-3 onion, 1table spoon amount ginger.

Harvested kasmalae flowers for cooking


Grind well all above ingredients in a mixer grinder and add salt according to taste. Now chutney is ready to serve.

kasmalae chutney ready to serve.


It is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya also known as sosru in some places. Kachru is taken as a snack with chutney ot tomato ketchup.


For preparing 1/2 kg flower and leaves Kachru ingredients one will need 250g besan (black gramflour) or corn flour,1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 1/2 table spoon caraway, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.


Make a paste of flowers and leaves with besan or corn flour and mixing it with spices. Heat some oil on a flat cooking pan and spread paste on it. Heat for 15-20 minutes occasionally turning it to other side and kachru will be ready. Serve hot with tomato sauce or some other ketchup.

Kachru prepared from kasmalae and kachnar (Bauhinia variegata) flowers.

Rayata of Kasmalae flowers and flower buds:


1/2 kg fresh flower and flower buds, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chilies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.


Either boil and squeeze flowers and buds or add these raw into curd with ingredients listed above. Mix well. Now rayata is ready to serve.

Rayata prepared with kasmalae flowers, flower buds and wild strawberry



Dried or fresh leaves of kasmale, 5-8 g; Sugar/honey. 1-2 table spoon, Water, 2 cup amount.


Boil kasmalae leaves in water for 3 to 5 min. Add to it sugar/honey and stir well. Strain and serve hot.

Preparing local alcoholic Drink from kasmalae roots:

For preparing alcoholic drink, root are crushed in pestle and mortar, then mixed with jaggery and yeast and placed inside a airtight container for fermentation. After 7-15 days depending upon weather condition this fermented product is ready for distillation. Distillation is usually performed in a special setup made up of two container or vessel plus outlet for distillate collection. Bottom vessel is meant for fermented mixture and top vessel or covering for vapour’s collection. Covering vessel is usually sealed with dough to avoid any leakage of vapour. Distillate (alcoholic drink) is collected in glass bottles through outlet. Local people in some parts of Western Himalayas prepare this alcoholic drink for their personal medicinal use.

A traditional set up for alcoholic drink preparation

Food Value:


Roots of this plant (B. lycium) possess dry matter, 61.2%; moisture,20.5%; protein, 4.5%;fat,  2.6%;  sugar,  3.5%;  fibre, 2.5%; and  vitamin  C,  0.3%. Berberine and palmitine are found in roots of kasamale in a concentration of 4.5 and 3.1%, respectively3.


Fruits also contain dry matter, 62.5%, moisture, 12.5%; protein, 2.5%; fat,1.8%; sugar, 4.5%; fibre,1.5% and vitamin C, 0.8% in  considerable  amount3 . 2.9% berberine is present in fruits3.

Maximum amount of fat and fibre was observed in roots, while highest amount of crude proteins was found in leaves 4.

Plant as a whole:

Plant possesses Na, Ca, S, Fe, Zn, Cu, Pb, Mn, K, P, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and β-Carotene. Optimal intakes of minerals such as, k, Cu, Zinc, Ca and Mn could decrease individual risk factors, including those associated with cardiovascular disorders 5,6,7.

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal uses:

A decoction is then concentrated and finally dried at low temperature. The end product is called “Rasaunt” and is used to cure eye infections.  New vegetable a typical shoot is crushed and sap is also used for the same Purpose1. The root in Yunani system of medicine is considered bitter with an unpleasant taste; used in splenic troubles; tonic, febrifuge; intestinal astringent; good for cough, chest and throat troubles, eye sores and itching of the eyes; piles, menorrhagia; useful in chronic diarrhea; allays thrist 2. As a gargle it strengthens the gums and is a good application to boils2. A simple decoction of it, with honey is given in jaundice 2. Rasonut is used as a purgative for children, as a blood purifier and external medicament in conjunctivitis in combinations with opium. It has a depressant action on the cardiovascular system 2. Folk uses 1-2 g powered root  with water  every morning for 20 days to cure nervous disorders, a ‘chutney’ prepared by grinding its flowers with mint leaves and black pepper effectively checks vomiting 8. Many species of Berberis have been found to have antidiabetic property. Berberis lycium and various root extracts lower the glucose level significantly 9.10.

Chemical constituents: 

Berberine, oxyacanthine, berbamine, berberubine, chelidonic acid, bervulcine, columbamine, jatrorrhizine, resin 11.

Other Uses:

Plant is a good source of fuel, fodder and dye for local people. Leaves are grazed by sheep and goats. Dried wood is used as a fuel. Stem and branches are used for making walking stick. Kasmalae can be grown as an ornamental plant in garden for its beautiful yellow flowers. It can be grown as a spiny hedge or live fence to demarcate boundaries and exclude livestock from cultivated land.

Source of Income:

Kasmalae is a good source of income for the locals of Western Himalaya as root, bark, fruits and extract of this plant all are known to have high market value and sold both in local and national market. Ripe fruits are sold at the price of Rs 150 to 200 /250 g , but this practice is not so common in District Mandi of Himachal Pradesh and usually most of the ripe fruits get destroyed at resource level. People eat ripe fruits only for taste and enjoyment and ignorant about their huge nutritive, medicinal and economic values.

Current market rate of Daruhaldi is 120 Rs/100 g

Market product of kasmalae


  1. Uniyal SR, Singh KN, Jamwal P, Lal B (2006). Traditional use of medicinal plants among the tribal communities of Chhota Bhangal, Western Himalaya. J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomed. 2:14.
  2. Chauhan, N. S. (1999). Medicinal and aromatic plants of Himachal Pradesh. Indus publishing.
  3. Gulfraz M, Arshad M, Nayyer N, Kanwal N, Nisar U (2004). Investigation for bioactive compounds of Berberis lyceum Royle and Justicia adhatoda L. Ethnobot. Leaflets 1:51-62.
  4. Shah H, Shad AA, Perveen S, Khattak S, Khattak KF (2003). Physiochemical composition of wild medicinal plant Berberis lycium. Pak. J. App. Sci. 3(6):370-375.
  5. Mertz W (1982). Trace minerals and atherosclerosis. Food Process. 41:2807-2812
  6. Brody T (1994) NutritionalBiochemistry, (San Diego, CA: Academic Press).
  7. Sanchez-Castillo CP, Dewey PJS, Aguirre A, Lara JJ, Vaca R, Leon de la Barra P, Ortiz M, Escamilla I, James WPT (1998). The mineral content of Mexican fruits and vegetables. J. Food. Comp. Anal. 11:340-356.
  8. Sood SK, Thakur S. (2004): Ethnobotany of Rewalsar Himalaya. Deep Publications.
  9. Ahmad M, Alamgeer, Sharif T (2009). A potential adjunct to insulin Berberis lyceum Royle. Diabet. croatic 38(1):13-18.
  10. Nangyal Hasnain. Advances in Biomedicine and Pharmacy (An International journal of Biomedicine, Natural products and Pharmacy) 2014; 1(1):11-14.
  11. Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. (2009); A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. 2:352-3.

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