Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Mahonia trifoliolata

Agarita, Agarito, Algerita, Laredo mahonia, Laredo Oregon-grape, Trifoliate barberry, Wild currant

Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)
Marcus, Joseph A.
This 3-6 ft. evergreen shrub, can reach 8 ft. in favorable conditions. The rigid, spreading branches often form thickets. Gray-green to blue-gray, trifoliate, holly-like leaves are alternate, 24 inches long, divided into three leaflets which have 37 lobes ending in sharp spines. Wood bright yellow. Flowers numerous, yellow, up to 1/2 inch wide with 6 petals and 6 sepals, which are similar, forming a cup shape around the stamens and pistils. Flowers appearing in February and March, their fragrance often filling the air where they are plentiful. Fruit a red berry, edible appearing from May to July.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Trifoliate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: 3-8 feet.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr


Native Distribution: Coastal s. TX through Trans-Pecos to s. AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Hills; open woods; rocky slopes & cliffs, thickets and open woods from coastal South Texas northwest to the Trans-Pecos. Well-drained loam, clay, caliche, limestone.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil Description: Rocky, limestone soil.
Conditions Comments: This evergreen shrub has rigid, spreading branches often forming thickets. Gray-green to blue-gray, trifoliate, holly-like foliage has needle-sharp tips. Clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers are followed by red berries from May to July. Songbirds eat the fruits, and quail and small mammals use the plant for cover. It is considered a good honey source.


Use Wildlife: Songbirds eat fruits. Quail and small mammals use the plant for cover. Considered a good honey source.
Use Food: The lustrous red fruit, is a pea-sized berry that is used in making jelly and wine.
Use Other: Roots furnished a yellow dye used by early pioneers.
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2015-06-24