Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt.

Oregon grape, Oregon-grape holly, holly-leaved barberry
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Mahonia aquifolium
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Mahonia aquifolium: Appearance of the shrub in autumn

Appearance of the shrub in autumnBranch with 2 imparipinnate leaves 20 cm long, each with 5 leaflets with spiny-dentate marginsBranch with numerous yellow flowers arranged in racemes and 2 leaves with red petiolesPollinator insect attracted by the nectar produced by the nectariferous glands of the innermost tepalsCluster of glaucous berries; the blackish-blue ones are ripeLeaves with powdery mildew (<span class=cursiva>Microsphaera berberidis</span> = <span class=cursiva>Erysiphe berberidis</span>)

Mahonia: After B. McMahon, an American horticulturist from the 18th-19th century

aquifolius, -a, -um: with acute or spiny leaves


Habit: Evergreen, ramose, glabrous shrub 0.5-2.5 m tall that spreads by underground stolons.

Leaves: alternate, persistent, 10-25 cm long, compound, with a petiole 1-6 cm long; blade imparipinnate, with 2-5 pairs of seated leaflets; leaflets 2.5-6 cm long. x 2-4 cm wide, ovate to elliptic, with spinous-dentate margins, leathery, glossy adaxially.

Flowers: hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, hypogynous, small, yellow, fragrant, arranged in racemes or panicles with bracts, with 15 perianth pieces 7-8 mm long, 6 stamens and a unicarpellous gynoecium with a superior ovary.

Fruit: subglobose to ellipsoid blackish-blue glaucous berry 8-10 mm long.


It flowers in spring; fruits mature in summer.

Geographic origin

Native to SW Canada and the NW United States.


It is often cultivated in parks and gardens. Its fruits are used to flavour drinks and desserts. It is used as a topical treatment for psoriasis.

The individuals growing on this campus usually have a white mycelium on their leaves that indicates the presence of powdery mildew (Microsphaera berberidis (DC.) Lév. = Erysiphe berberidis DC.) (see Picture Gallery).

It is propagated from seeds or semi-hardwood cuttings.

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