The barberry plant is one of almost 500 species of thorny evergreen or deciduous shrubs of the genus Berberis and the family Berberidaceae. The barberry shrub or barberry bush is common in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult. Zereshk is the Persian name for the dried fruit of barberries. Iran is the largest producer of Zereshk. The South Khorasan province in Iran is the main area of Zereshk and saffron production in the world, especially around Birjand. Zereshk is widely used in cooking, imparting a sour flavor to chicken dishes. It is usually cooked with rice, called Zereshk Polo, and provides a nice meal with chicken. Zereshk has a sour taste. In Europe, the barberries have been traditionally used as an ingredient in making jam. The root, bark and red berries of the barberry bush are used for medicinal purposes. Studies have shown that barberry has anticonvulsant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive and sedative effects. Barberry has also been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system, making it helpful for a wide range of infections and diseases.
Barberries are highly nutritious. They are rich in fiber, several vitamins, and minerals. The barberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Barberries contain zinc, manganese, and copper, all of which are trace minerals that play significant roles in immunity and disease prevention. In addition, studies have shown that antioxidant-rich barberry can help prevent center types of cancer. The bright red color of the barberry comes from anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that may boost your brain and heart health, among other benefits.