Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Mahonia [Berberis] aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape, Hollyleaved Barberry)


 Plantae – Plants


 Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta – Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons






 Berberidaceae – Barberry family


 Mahonia Nutt. – barberry


 Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt. – hollyleaved barberry

How beautiful is our Oregon State flower, the Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)!

Hardy in USDA zones 5-10, it is at home along the Pacific coast from BC to northern California.

Oregon Grape can reach 10' tall, but is usually 5' in gardens.

In spring, large clusters of small golden flowers unfurl from shiny green, holly-like foliage.

New growth is copper color in the spring.

The blue fruits are tart and improve after frost. They are often gathered for jelly or wine. Used to treat a wide variety of ailments, Oregon Grape species contain the extremely potent alkaloid, berberine, (also found in goldenseal) which is antiseptic and stimulates the liver and spleen.

It flourishes in sun or shade and is highly drought tolerant: perfect for the northwest.

An evergreen shrub, this Oregon Grape is good looking all year. After the lovely yellow flower clusters have gone by, true blue berries will take their place. Birds and small wildlife are attracted to these berries but they'll usually leave enough for you to admire. The contrast between the blue fruits and the glossy green foliage is picture perfect. Wintertime, your Tall Oregon Grape will color it's leaves to bronze, only to green up again when spring comes round. Use this plant for hedges, borders and drifts. They grow quickly and make a great fence!

 For a short comparison of native Oregon Grapes, click here.

Oregon Grape Jam



1 quart Oregon Grapes (Mahonia aquifolia or other Mahonias)

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces

1 box fruit pectin

7 1/2 cups sugar

1 - 12 oz can frozen concord grape juice concentrate

Enough water ready to add to grape, apple pulps and juice concentrate to make the measurement of 6 cups.

8 - 8oz jars, lids and rims

Take out about 1/4 cup grapes and a heaping tablespoon of small apple pieces and set aside. Then follow the cooking steps for grape jam inside the pectin package adding the set-aside fruits to the jars just before sealing. If you don't have enough wild Oregon Grapes at one time, you can freeze them until you have enough.

This recipe is from a woman in Coquille, Oregon, which is along the southern Oregon Coast. Her name is Rachel Ordway Smith. She has other recipes using fruits from northwest native plants on her web site at www.artsdesire.org/.

Photo, above, credit: Aelwyn


Photo, left, credit:  4028mdk09


Photo, left, credit:  Ciar; Photo, center, credit: 4028mdk09


Photo, right, credit:  H. Zell


Photos We Share!

It is our pleasure to share the photographs in this section with you under the Creative Commons License (see link below for details). We retain ownership of the photos but you may use them freely as long as you credit our website for them.


Creative Commons License
These photos by http://www.nwplants.com are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Contact:  nwplants@gmail.com ~ Copyright 2016 © The Wild Garden: Hansen’s Northwest Native Plant Database  ~ All rights reserved