Berberis Species, Holly-Leaved Barberry, Oregon Grape, Oregon Grape Holly

Berberis aquifolium

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Berberis (BUR-bur-is) (Info)
Species: aquifolium (a-kwee-FOH-lee-um) (Info)
Synonym:Mahonia aquifolium
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


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

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Trussville, 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

Bahabón, Castille and Leon

Clifton, Colorado

Sharon, Connecticut

Crawfordville, Florida

Orange Park, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia

Avondale Estates, Georgia

Cordele, Georgia

Jonesboro, Georgia

Macon, Georgia

Kamiah, Idaho

Moscow, 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(2 reports)

Trumansburg, New York

Charlotte, North Carolina

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

Clarkston Heights-Vineland, Washington

Eatonville, Washington

Ephrata, Washington

Ford, Washington

Midland, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington(3 reports)

Soap Lake, Washington

Spokane, Washington(2 reports)

Tacoma, Washington

West Clarkston-Highland, Washington

Mukwonago, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 28, 2021, sylviastruss from Flagstaff, AZ wrote:

I came across this growing wild near the Rio de Flag in Flagstaff AZ, so beautiful growing in some rocks, in full bloom!


On Jan 11, 2021, belarts1 from Syracuse, NY wrote:

I live in Syracuse, NY and 50 years ago my neighbor gave me a plant pulled from his garden. It thrived and other plants some in shade and some in sun have appeared. Flowering in mid to late May, the round clumps of brilliant yellow flowers put on a great show. This plant is not for sale in this area, and I really don't know why.. Grape holly and jane magnolia are my two favorite plants for all year pleasure.


On Apr 22, 2016, EyeGarden from Oak Park, IL wrote:


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 nev... read more


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 whic... read more


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.


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).


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. Hopefu... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.....


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.


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 lit... read more


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 Grap... read more