Herbs, shrubs, or trees with watery juice. A peculiarity of the leaves in the principal genus of the order suggests the name barberry; these are usually beset with spiny teeth, occasionally reduced to simple or branching spines (barbs). Inflorescence various; solitary (Podophyllum), in racemes (Berberis), panicles, cymes, or spikes. Flowers greenish (Caulophyllum) or white with outer greenish bractlets (Podophyllum); fruit a berry or capsule (sometimes edible—May apple).
A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.