Native Plant of the Month: Oregon Grape

Photo of Oregon Grape.

Common Name: Oregon Grape

Binomial Name: Mahonia aquifolium

Soil Type: Moist to rather dry

Sunlight: Full shade to full sun

Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

Form: Multiple, branched stems; spreads by rhizomes

Foliage: Evergreen; Pinnately compound, with up to seven leaflets with spiny margins

Fruit/Flower: small yellow flowers followed by berries

With over 100 species of Mahonia native to Asia and North and Central America Ten species are located in western North America. The Oregon grape can withstand a wide range of soil types and can tolerate full shade to full sun. This hardy shrub has gained status as Oregon’s state flower and is great in a wildlife garden providing shelter and food for birds and other animals. 

This Evergreen shrub contains leafs that are prickly and have a waxy coating; they often change colors from a deep green to a burgundy or red. Small, yellow, fragrant flowers bloom in 3 inch long clusters near the tip of the branch from early to late spring. The flowers are followed by small berries that are blue in color and have a sour flavor to them and are often used to make jelly. Other uses have been found for the plant as well, such as: The inner bark of the stems and roots are used to make yellow dye and the berries to make a purple dye, also is said to have some medicinal properties in the roots of the plant. 

Often growing up to Ten feet tall, Mahonia spread underground by tough rhizomes, making