Mahonia aquifolium
Common name: 
Oregon Grape
Oregon Grape Holly
Tall Oregon Grape
ma-HO-ni-a a-kwi-FO-lee-um
Berberis aquifolium
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Evergreen shrub, 3-10 ft, (0.9-3 m), upright, often leggy, although some forms low and broad.  Leaves alternate, compound pinnate, (7-9 leaflets), 15-30 cm long, extremely stiff and leathery, spine-tipped along margin which is wavy having distinct troughs between spines, lustrous dark green above, may turn bronze to bright red-purple in winter, especially the latter if in cold areas in full sun.  Flowers bright yellow, in 5-7 cm long and wide terminal racemes (early spring).  Fruit blue-black berry, bloomy, 8 mm wide (mid-summer).
  • Partial or full shade.  Performs best in moist, well-drained, acid soil.  Avoid hot, dry soils (such as in parking lots or strips), and desiccating winds.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 5     Native range from British Columbia to Oregon.  State Flower of Oregon.
  • Several cultivars available, including:
    • ‘Compacta’ - which grows to an average height of 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) and spreads freely
    • 'Mayhan Strain' - 2.5-3.5 ft (76-106 cm) tall
    • 'Orange Flame' - reaches 5 ft (1.5 m), new leaves bronzy-oranage, then glossy green, foliage may turn wine red in winter.  Plant Patent No. 2544.
  • Mahonia: after Bernard McMahon (~1775-1816), an Irish-born nurserman of Philadelphia.  Author of The American Gardener's Calendar (1806 and subsequent years).
  • The genus Mahonia has now been included in the genus Berberis, hence the accepted name for Oregon Grape is Berberis aquifolium.  However, in commercial horticulture these plants are still known as Mahonia. 
  •  aquifolium: the classical name for holly.  The leaflets of Oregon Grape somewhat resemble the leaves of English Holly, Ilex aquifolium.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: north of Cordley Hall; east and west sides of Owen Hall
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • plant habit, unpruned

    plant habit, unpruned

  • leaf


  • leaf


  • leaves, comparison of Oregon native Mahonia

    leaves, comparison of Oregon native Mahonia

  • flower cluster and leaflets

    flower cluster and leaflets

  • flowers


  • immature fruit

    immature fruit

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer

  • fruit and leaves

    fruit and leaves

  • plant habit, winter, full sun

    plant habit, winter, full sun

  • leaves in winter

    leaves in winter