Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt.
Hollyleaved barberry, Oregon-grape, Holly-leaf Oregon-grape
Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)
Holly-leaf Oregon-grape is a 3-6 ft., mound-shaped, broadleaf evergreen shrub
with pinnately compound,
glossy, leathery leaves. The 5-9 dark-green leaflets are armed with spiny teeth and turn reddish in fall. Terminal clusters of bright-yellow, bell-shaped flowers are followed by clusters of tiny blue, grape-like fruits. The bronzy copper color or the new growth in spring is an added bonus.
This stout shrub
is the state flower of Oregon. The berries of this and other Oregon-grape species are eaten by wildlife and make good jelly. Native
Americans made a yellow dye from the bark
and wood of this shrubby species. Several are used as ornamental garden plants; in the nursery trade some of them are known by the common name Mahonia.
Image Gallery: 16 photo(s) available
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Blue Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
CA , ID , KY , MI , MT , NJ , NY , OH , OR , WA , DC Canada: BC Native Distribution:
B.C. to ID & n.w. MT, s. to n. CA Native Habitat:
Deep, conifer forests; open, rocky woods USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, acid loams.
Conditions Comments: Protect this plant from drying winter winds. Leaf scorch can be severe. Barberry aphids, scale and whiteflies can be a problem.
Widely used as an ornamental and has been reported as an escape
from cultivation across the continent. Use Wildlife:
Berries are relished by a variety of wildlife. Use Medicinal:
Medicinally, various root preparations of Berberis aquifolium were used by Native
Americans for stomach trouble, hemorrhages, and tuberculosis; as a panacea, a tonic, a gargle, and an eye wash; and to purify blood. Leaves and roots were used in steam baths to treat yellow fever; karok was used as a poison; and the tips of stems were used to treat stomach aches (D. E. Moermann 1986). Conspicuous Flowers: