Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Oregon Grape, Oregon Grape Holly, Holly-leaved Barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mahonia (ma-HO-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: aquifolium (a-kwee-FOH-lee-um) (Info)

Synonym:Berberis aquifolium
Synonym:Berberis piperiana
Synonym:Mahonia piperiana
Synonym:Odostemon aquifolium

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

34 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

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

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
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 woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 34 photos.
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18 positives
7 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SteffofAvondale On Aug 26, 2013, SteffofAvondale from Avondale Estates, GA wrote:

This is a gorgeous shrub in all seasons here in Atlanta. Mine came with the house, and I've never had to feed, water, prune, or divide it in 15 years. Blooms in January, before pretty much anything else, followed by fabulous clusters of blue berries. In summer it's just green, but the leaves are interesting-- leathery ovals as big as a child's hand, with pointed spines like holly leaves, but not as fierce as holly. The trunks are like nandina, woody, and each branch ends with a horizontal spoked wheel of leaves. Vivid scarlet leaves in fall/winter are possibly even prettier than the fruit in spring. I never get seedlings under the plants, but they do pop up in the lawn under other trees, so probably dropped by birds or squirrels. The lawnmower takes care of those, I guess, because I never even noticed them until this year while looking for something else.

Negative xarifa On Aug 7, 2013, xarifa from Crescent Valley B.C.
Canada wrote:

We have fields were this plant has taken over and we very much wish to remove it permanently and wonder how we can do this as it is very tuff to try and pull out. We need something that can be applied either by spray or ? This is very invasive and would recommend anyone planting it to be very aware and carefull. Can someone give some advise on how to permanently get rid of it? Thank you

Positive foodiesleuth On Jan 21, 2013, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

My mother had several Mahonia plants in her back yard in Greensboro, NC and I've also grown it when I lived in SC. I used the branches, blooms and berries in flower arrangements. ...Never knew the berries were edible and wish now I had known back when the plant was so available to me!
I now live in Hawai'i and haven't seen it growing here at all.

Positive heritageflowerfarm On Jan 21, 2013, heritageflowerfarm from Mukwonago, WI wrote:

it's easy from fresh seed. Cold stratify in the frig for 3 months and seeds will germinate in the the frig.

Positive MulchingMan On Sep 22, 2012, MulchingMan from Eugene, OR wrote:

I love this shrub, as its very easy to grow and relatively low-maintenance. I planted a half-dozen in various locations around my yard (getting anywhere from 1.5-5 hours of direct sun per day), and they do well in just about all lighting conditions. One of mine gets 5 hours of direct afternoon/early evening sun and seems to thrive in that spot (with weekly water in the summer). You'll want to plant these in soil that drains reasonably well, but they're otherwise not that picky about soil type. If you have dry summers like we do, give them a weekly watering and they'll be fine.

The small yellow flowers are unremarkable, but birds LOVE the blueish-purple berries.

Neutral mara57 On Apr 22, 2012, mara57 from Cazenovia, NY wrote:

Noticed several of these plants in full bloom as I was driving through Syracuse, NY today - it's 4/22/12. All appeared to be in full sun, and most in unsheltered areas, but I didn't take note of the exact direction. I have also grown this plant in Dallas, Tx, but it required shade there.

Take note, the leaves of these plants are sharp and will draw blood if you're not wearing gloves. Not recommended for high traffic area where dogs and people roam. They may not walk into the bush, but the dead leaves that have fallen are still sharp.

Positive alheline On Mar 26, 2012, alheline from Dundee, IL wrote:

Have two plants which have survived several Chicago winters. Have to build bamboo and burlap teepees over my Rhododendron and Azalea to protect against deer, so the Mahonia gets tented also. One Mahonia is on the south edge of a treed area, the other is back in the shaded area of the same trees. The south facing, right on the lawn edge, has been growing better than the 'in shade' one, but both are doing well.

When young, and during a severe winter, the deer 'chowed-down' and nearly killed the plants. Thus, I have been protecting them. Our deer do not seem to realize that they are not supposed to like Oregon Grape leaves....they eat anything.

Fantastic display of small yellow flowers, in bunches, in the spring resulting in small 'grapes' in the fall which the birds love (no leftovers).

Positive Siggy On Jan 21, 2012, Siggy from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have a lot of shade and the mahonias love it. People are always complementing the grape mahonias in my landscape.

Neutral rkwright85 On Jun 28, 2011, rkwright85 from Horton, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

Planted one in a VERY sheltered location on the NE corner of my house and still had some die-back. Leaves stayed green up until Spring when most of them fell off. Every one of these I have seen planted in the North is absolutely fried if it is not planted in a sheltered area (NO wind).

Positive Erutuon On Apr 14, 2011, Erutuon from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

Last year I planted Oregon grape in the shady area between our house and the next. It was a single-stemmed plant when I bought it, and it grew to about 4 feet high in two growth spurts in summer.

It stayed dark green for most of the winter, but when the snow started melting, the leaves that were above the snow (about 2 feet deep) began to turn tan and fall off. The upper part of the stem is dry and somewhat shriveled. Apparently only the snow-covered part survived the winter.

Two tiny leaves below the snow line are still green. Some sprouts are emerging on the lower part of the stem. I guess this year the plant will turn into more of a bush. Hopefully there will be enough snow next winter to protect it... without snow it doesn't seem to be really hardy. Hopefully a flowerbud will survive till spring.

Update: This past winter (2011-12) there was very little snow, but the plant survived I think all of its stems, actually. It's grown a lot this summer. It's now at least four feet high. It didn't flower yet. I hope it will sometime. But till then, it's still very interesting with its spiny and glossy leaves, especially when they're young and rosy yellow.

Positive kathrynt50 On Apr 4, 2011, kathrynt50 from Eugene, OR wrote:

I have a large, and very tall, patch of this in my Eugene yard, growing in full sun. I like the long period of yellow flowers, and so do the birds and bees. It was allowed to run wild by the previous owner, and can take over if not controlled. I seldom water it, yet it is healthy and vigorous. I don't like the prickly leaves, but with the tall variety, this is less of a problem, because they are easier to avoid.

Neutral rosie329 On Jul 11, 2010, rosie329 from Lindsborg, KS wrote:

I have planted 5 plants. Four are doing well but one just does not thrive. It is small and weak. They have been in the ground for about 2 years. I do not know if there is a disease or what. They are in the same spot, east side of our house at the front. They have morning sun and afternoon shade.

Positive lanahi On Oct 8, 2009, lanahi from Kamiah, ID wrote:

Oregon grape grows wild in Northcentral Idaho. It makes excellent tasting and beautiful jams and is a pretty plant all year. I don't find it aggressive at all. It prefers at least some shade and grows in total shade here.

Positive anelson77 On May 20, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

Adaptable native for the Pacific Northwest. Needs very little care and grows sun or shade, poor dry soil. Evergreen, and grows moderately slowly.

Neutral Sequoia03 On Aug 26, 2008, Sequoia03 from Nampa, ID (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant grows wild in wooded areas all around Idaho. We're at 2,700 feet, and I've seen it in the mountains much higher than that. I have several volunteer shrubs in my own garden, growing in dry, almost-full shade. They had a lot of flowers this Spring because of the wet winter, and now there are lots of berries. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to get rid of! I am constantly having to pull out volunteers with deep, extensive root systems all over the shaded areas of my garden. I like the fragrance of the flowers, and this shrub is certainly care-free, but I do not want a garden full of Oregon Grape. I'd say be careful where you plant it, and be sure to keep it in bounds, or you may have a lot more Oregon Grape than you planned on!

Positive garenroseshadow On Aug 25, 2008, garenroseshadow from Summerst, SD (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant grows wild in the Black Hills of South Dakota and we use it in our christmas wreaths. In the fall the leaves turn a burgundy to bright red color and add a handsome green to the green of the fresh spruce and pine.

Neutral Notill On Aug 25, 2008, Notill from Payson, AZ wrote:

The first three of our four years in Payson, Az, our Oregon Grape Holly was visited annually by the single-note-calling phainopepla in summer for the grapes. I thought the fruit was bland. The blossoms before are very aromatic, almost cloying. Our O. G. H. are being infested with a web making insect similar to the tent caterpillar. I've had to raze a couple to the ground. They do put up shoots elsewhere, so I don't think their in danger of elimination. I just wish I knew what the insect is.

Positive petuniatoad On Aug 25, 2008, petuniatoad from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

The only maintenance I've had to do is prune the tops out to keep it compact. I was able to root one of these cuttings to plant for the future.
The mockingbirds love to eat the berries.

Positive wilmott On Aug 25, 2008, wilmott from Sharon, CT wrote:

I've had this plant for fifteen or twenty years at 1100 feet in the northwest corner of Connecticut and it's as carefree as anything can be. It's in complete shade until late afternoon, spreads very slowly, and comes back when we thought it was dead. It's still barely two feet high but six feet wide. We clip it occasionally for holly decorations at Christmas.

Positive drekadair On Jul 17, 2007, drekadair from Wilsonville, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

A very hardy plant, not just in terms of temperature. The previous owner of our property went through and sprayed everything with RoundUp, and we were sure the Oregon Grape was dead. To our surprise, is wasn't!

Says full sun... according to conventional wisdom around the Willamette Valley, it's a shade plant. It's very rarely seen growing in full sun around here. Our patch grows in full dry shade, and is thriving.

The yellow flowers are rather ugly up close, but stunning from a distance. The berries are a little too tart to eat straight, but make a wonderful jam. A must-have for the PNW.

Positive marysgarden On Jun 12, 2007, marysgarden from Wetumpka, AL wrote:

Growing very well in almost full shade--probably needs it during our hot Alabama summers. Companions are Japanese Fatsia, Japanese Maple (Crimson Queen) and Cast Iron Plant.

Positive Jacquie On May 1, 2005, Jacquie from Spring, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I see this plant marked for sun, but I have grown it very successfully in shade in Piedmont of NC, and in Houston, TX.
It is outstanding in shade with red folliage in fall, bright yellow blooms in spring and olive shaped dark purple blue fruits in summer. An interesting shape, very hardy, not needing maintenance. Goes with azaleas, but will stand even less light.

Neutral Iluvmygarden On Mar 21, 2005, Iluvmygarden from Hope, BC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I just moved into this new neighborhood in Hope, BC Canada, in December. One of the first native plants to pop up in the area (in Feb.) is the Oregon Grape. They grow everywhere around here! I can't wait to see the fruits and flowers..It is a very woodsy area around here, lots of shade under large trees, but alot of heat and sunlight in summer. They really seem to thrive under the canopy of trees, with all of the natural mulch.....

Neutral melody On Feb 15, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant varies from a stout shrub with many erect stems to a creeping form with an underground rhizome. Shiny holly-like leaves and chalky blue berries identify this plant common to pine forests of western Canada, northwestern CA, NV, TX, Co, SD and western MT.

Native Americans used the bark to make a yellow dye. The berries are eaten by man and beasy alike and they make a nice jelly.

Positive 433kfj On Nov 12, 2004, 433kfj from klamath falls, OR (Zone 6a) wrote:

Yes, of course it grows here! This is its prime growing location. It grows on the north slope around my house (on a north-facing scarp) but you won't find it growing naturally in the open sun-baked flatland or on western or southern exposures unless somewhat shaded. It's extremely hardy. I'm at an elevation of of a little over 4,200FT and it grows way up higher in the mountains around here that can get 6'+ of snow in the winter. In addition to that, here in the Klamath Basin, the moisture content during the winter is basically nill when the wind blows and the temperatures go below freezing. The same thing happens in the summer with high temperatures and wind with little humidity. This plant shows no sign of stress in either situation as long as its roots are shaded and the soil stays a little moist. As for the berries, they are a little tart and seedy, but I have heard many accounts of the tremendous jelly they make, like from a grape, but more tart(added suger of course). I haven't ever gathered the berries from the bushes around my house for lack of time and anyone I could give them to to make jelly, but I did notice a huge increase in mice in and outside my house this year due to a heavy crop of all berry-bushes around my house(we've been in a drought and had a "decent" snow last winter, so the wild plants around here went crazy this year with flowers & fruit). Gathering the berries might be a good idea if you live in an area prone to rodents. I have never seen birds actually eating the berries, and there are still many left on the bushes yet. Maybe when the ground is coverd in snow, the birds will come looking for the berries. Like I said, the ground around here hasn't had snow on it ,for any lenghth of time,in about 10 years.

Positive lbu2881919 On Aug 13, 2004, lbu2881919 from Klamath Falls, OR wrote:

Native to the West Coast of the USA from Northern California to Vancouver , Canada . Very abundant on the east side of the Cascades in open forest . Grows in part shade to full sun . Growing abundantly here in zone 5 and wild specimens here have survived recent winters as cold as -25 F . Very tolerant of heat , cold and drought once established . There are actually 3 species of Oregon Grape growing here . (1) Berberis Nervosa or Oregon Grape, a low growing shrub 4 - 12 inches high . (2) Berberis Aquifolium or Tall Oregon Grape , very similiar to b.nervosa only growing to heights in excess of 6 feet . This species makes a wonderful inpenetrable hedge . (3) Berberis Repens or Creeping Oregon Grape , a low spreading shrub found east of the Cascades .

The berries of Oregon Grape are edible although very sour . Each berry also contains 1 - 4 seeds . I am in process now of collecting seed from various elevations in the cascades for cold stratification this winter.


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

, (5 reports)
Auburn, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Wetumpka, Alabama
Payson, Arizona
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Chico, California
Gazelle, California
Long Beach, California
Merced, California
North Auburn, California
Sacramento, California
Seal Beach, California
Torrance, California
Winchester, California
Clifton, Colorado
Sharon, Connecticut
Crawfordville, Florida
Orange Park, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Augusta, Georgia
Avondale Estates, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Jonesboro, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Kamiah, Idaho
Nampa, Idaho
Galesburg, Illinois
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Logansport, Indiana
Vevay, Indiana
Lindsborg, Kansas
Corydon, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Owings Mills, Maryland
Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Hancock, Michigan
Horton, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Hernando, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Saint Louis, Missouri
Whitehall, Montana
Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Buffalo, New York
Ithaca, New York
New York City, New York
Rochester, New York
Syracuse, New York
Trumansburg, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Hays, North Carolina
Kernersville, North Carolina
Polkton, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Eugene, Oregon (2 reports)
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Salem, Oregon (2 reports)
Springfield, Oregon
Wilsonville, Oregon
Kittanning, Pennsylvania
Murrysville, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wayne, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Trenton, South Carolina
Black Hawk, South Dakota
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Ooltewah, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Johnson City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Springtown, Texas
Waxahachie, Texas
Ogden, Utah
Artondale, Washington
Clarkston, Washington
Eatonville, Washington
Ephrata, Washington
Ford, Washington
Midland, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Seattle, Washington (3 reports)
Soap Lake, Washington
Spokane, Washington (2 reports)
Tacoma, Washington
Mukwonago, Wisconsin

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