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PlantFiles: Currant-of-Texas, Wild Currant, Chaparral Berry, Agarita, Agrito, Algerita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mahonia (ma-HO-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: trifoliolata (try-foh-lee-oh-LAY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Berberis trifoliolata
Synonym:Berberis trifoliolata var. glauca
Synonym:Mahonia trifoliolata var. glauca

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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There are a total of 23 photos.
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7 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive BajaBlue On Apr 3, 2013, BajaBlue from Rancho Santa Rita, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

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

Neutral larks7 On Jan 11, 2012, larks7 from Houston, TX wrote:

Has anyone in the Houston area grown agrito successfully?
aka currant-of-texas, mahonia trifoliolata, etc.

Neutral bomersbach007 On Aug 9, 2010, bomersbach007 from Katy, TX wrote:

I want to pick the berries off the bush and replant. When is the best time to plant and what do I do with the berries before planting in the ground?


Positive pepperpatti On Aug 6, 2010, pepperpatti from Globe, AZ wrote:

We have these plants growing all across the front of our property along with mountain mahogony and wild lilac(ceonothus). It also grows wild all along our canyon road. Because of a drought the past few years it's pretty stressed right now though. I have a question. Several of the bushes have this stuff that looks like a stretchy, spider webby material on the branches that has little egg like looking things on the outside of it. It looks as though the branches where it is are dying. Does anyone know what it is or what to do about it?

Positive JohnTS71 On Jun 6, 2009, JohnTS71 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I got one of these growing now in my desert garden thanks to a bird. I decided to let it grow when I found out what it was.

Positive htop On Feb 10, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata, synonym: Berberis trifoliolata) is also commonly known as agritos, currant-of-Texas, wild currant and chaparral berry. It is native to southern Arizona and southern New Mexico to the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos areas of Texas, east and south through central and south Texas and into Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Len, San Luis Potos, Mexico. It can be differentiated from Texas mahonia (B. swaseyi) and red barberry (B. haematocarpa) by its having three leaflets joined at a central point (trifoliate). This evergreen shrub slowly grows between 3 to 6 feet tall, which can reach 8 feet when growing in favorable conditions. The rigid, spreading branches often form thickets. It has gray-green to blue-gray, holly-like foliage which has needle-sharp tips. Clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers are followed by red berries from May to July. The fruits are eaten by songbirds and quail and small mammals use the plant for cover. It is considered to be a good honey source as well. It makes a great accent, screen, rock garden, xeriscape or wildscape plant.

Positive lmorgan9 On May 28, 2003, lmorgan9 from Rotan, TX wrote:

I live in west Texas and the algerita are berry-laden this season.

Positive oldosage On Mar 17, 2003, oldosage wrote:

I grew up in West Central Texas where the algerita flourished on rangeland. The orange colored berry makes wonderful filling for pies. One word of caution about picking the berries. The plants produce mature fruit in mid Spring, and birds are attracted to them. Unfortunately, snakes are attracted to the birds. I have seen rattlers coiled beneath algerita bushes in wait for the unwary.

Positive tutumama On May 27, 2002, tutumama wrote:

It also makes a fabulous wine...birds also love it, and little cottontails love to hide beneath the protective shelter from predators. My experience with it was in the Texas hill country. When harvesting expect some insects when harvesting the berries. Also, some dry leaves. These may be eliminated by turning a fan on high and blowing them away.

Neutral Wingnut On May 26, 2002, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Wonderful carefree plant if you live in a hot/dry area and are sick of cactus. Produces edible fruit that makes good jelly ~ to harvest, lay a sheet under the plant and hold one branch out over the sheet with a stick while tapping/hitting the branch with another. Has thorns on leaves like holly ~ plant in rows along your property line to keep the neighbor kids out of your yard. If you break a limb, the wood inside is a bright, vibrant yellow. I read somewhere that it was used as a dye plant because of this.

Needs good drainage ~ resents wet feet. If watered once a week or so it will be much healthier and more attractive ~ pretty enough that the leaves can be used at Christmastime as a slimmer-leaved, lighter green substitute for holly. If not watered regularly, it will still do fine, but will grow much slower and produce less flowers/fruit. Takes 20 years or so to reach 5 or 6 feet tall and about that wide in the wild ~ half that if cultivated and watered regularly.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Globe, Arizona
Carlsbad, New Mexico
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (4 reports)
Bulverde, Texas
Cedar Park, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Hondo, Texas
Kendalia, Texas
Lampasas, Texas
Leakey, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (5 reports)
Spicewood, Texas

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