Mahonia aquifolium - Oregon Grapeholly
Family: Berberidaceae

Hear the scientific name

Mahonia aquifolium is a small, evergreen, bold-textured shrub. Oregon Grapeholly has bronzed winter foliage and reddish juvenile foliage. It is one of the best broadleaf shrubs for winter bronzing if it is in a protected site.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S

-small shrub

-to 5' tall x 3' wide, upright oval growth habit, usually planted in groups, with several stems emerging from each plant

-slow rate

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-emerging reddish, changing to light green, turning lustrous dark green, then becoming a deep burgundy in winter, but often subject to frequent "burning" in winter, resulting in a partially bleached appearance

-evergreen, alternate, odd-pinnately compound with 5-9 leaflets which are elliptical to ovate, spiny-dentate, and glossy


-bright yellow-green, flowering in Apr., with a dense cluster of many small flowers in a terminal inflorescence

-attractive contrast to old burgundy foliage and emerging red foliage

-attracts bees


-ellipsoid blue berries with a whitish cast (like Blueberries)

-maturing in Aug.-Sept.

-not usually persistent, if present at all


-light brown, fairly stout, and somewhat irregular (numerous leaf and bud scale scars due to slow growth rate)

-small buds except for large terminal floral buds

trunk2 trunk Trunk

-not applicable

C   U   L   T   U   R   E


-does best in partial shade to full shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soils (becomes chlorotic if in alkaline soils)

-needs a protected site in winter against prevailing winds (as do all broad-leaved evergreens to avoid winter desiccation)

-does not tolerate poor drainage or full sun in winter

-Barberry Family, with several minor disease and pest problems, but most often troubled by improper placement in the landscape (see above), resulting in stunting, foliage chlorosis, and/or foliage winter burn

-moderately available in B&B or container form


-zones 5 to 7


-native to Pacific Northwest in U.S. in cool, partially shaded areas of coniferous forests

U   S   A   G   E


-ever-changing color of green or bronzed evergreen foliage

-bright yellow flowers in spring

-occasional terminal clusters of blue berries in summer


-does poorly in alkaline and/or wet sites

-winter burning of leaves

-slow growth

-full sun intolerance

-flowers attract bees


-foundation, entranceway, or specimen broadleaf evergreen shrub


-bold texture

-open density

S   E   L   E   C   T   I   0   N   S

Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-small to medium-sized shrubs of broadleaved evergreen habit (Buxus hybrids, Ilex x meserveae, Ligustrum japonicum, Rhododendron hybrids, etc.)

-small to medium-sized plants of bold character for shady sites (Acanthus species, Hosta cultivars, Hydrangea species, Rhododendron catawbiense, etc.)

-shrubs that have deeply bronzed evergreen foliage in winter (Cotoneaster salicifolius, Nandina domestica 'Firepower', etc.) or groundcovers with the same trait (Euonymus fortunei var. coloratus, Sedum floriferum 'Weihenstephaner Gold', etc.)


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