top of page
Sensory-Grapeholly 93-010.jpeg
Oregon Grapeholly
Catalogue A# 0093-010 SG27
GPS 45D 43' 57" N / 108D 37" 20" W

Mahonia aquifolium

Family: Berberidaceae

Origin: Northwest North America

Common name: Oregon grapeholly

Location: Sensory Garden-Behind Arbor, behind bench

Number in accession: (3) original (1) Surviving

Notes: Other specimens found at Lynx and Wolverine

Botanical name: Mahonia aquifolium
All Common Names: Oregon grape-holly, Holly-leaved barberry, Grape Holly, Oregon hollygrape, Holly leaf Oregon grape
Family (English): barberry
Family (Botanic): Berberidaceae
        Tree or Plant Type: Ground cover, Shrub
        Native Locale: North America
        Landscape Uses: Foundation, Patio/sidewalk, Specimen
        Size Range: Small shrub (3-5 feet), Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
        Light Exposure: Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
        Hardiness Zones: Zone 5 , Zone 6, Zone 7
        Soil Preference: Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
        Season of Interest: Early spring, Late summer, Early fall, Mid fall
        Flower Color & Fragrance: Yellow
        Shape or Form: Creeping, Upright
        Growth Rate: Slow
More Information:
Size & form
A semi-evergreen shrub reaching 4 to 5 feet high with a suckering habit.
Tree & Plant Care
Prefers part-shade to full shade in a protected site.
Leaves of plants in northern climates tend to winter burn. Protect from wind and winter sun.
Best in well drained, acidic, loamy soil. Tolerant of dry sites once established.
Prune regularly to control size, but wait for old leaves to drop and new growth to begin in spring.
Disease, pests, and problems
Not tolerant of alkaline soil, poor drainage, compacted soil, full sun or exposed sites.
Leaf scorch, aphids, scale
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Deer, rabbit
Native geographic location and habitat
Northwestern U. S. in rocky woods and coniferous forests
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
A rounded blue-black berry with a whitish cast (bloom) in late summer, looks like clusters of grapes and may persist into early winter
Bark color and texture 
Stout, light brown, unbranched stems with small winter buds
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, evergreen to semi-evergreen, glossy, compound pinnate leaves with 5 to 9 leaflets; elliptical to ovate with spiny margins
New growth emerging reddish, changing to lustrous dark green, to a deep burgundy fall and winter color. Winter burn leaves drop off in spring as new growth is emerging.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Bright yellow, clusters of erect, 2 to 3 inches long and wide terminal racemes, blooms in April and contrasts with last years burgundy foliage.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Rounded clusters of blue back berries with a  whitish-blue cast (bloom), look like grape clusters and persist into early winter.
Cultivars and related species and their differences 
Compact Dwarf Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia aquifolium 'Compactum'): A dwarf form reaching 2 to 2 1/2 feet high with glossy leaves and bronze winter color.
Creeping Mahonia (Mahonia repens): A species similar to Oregon Grape-holly with a stiff, low growing, creeping plant reaching 10 to 18 inches high.
New Market Oregon grape holly (Mahonia x decumbens)


Oregon grape-holly is a semi-evergreen, upright to oval shrub maturing at 4 to 5 feet high and 3 feet wide with tendency to sucker. Bright yellow clusters of small flowers in early spring contrast against the burgundy fall leaves of last years growth.  Glossy, holly-like summer foliage starts out burgundy maturing to blue green.  Site in an area protected against wind and winter sun.

bottom of page