Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon Grape at Sensible Gardening and Living

Oregon Grape is an evergreen shrub which reminds me of English holly and is sometimes called grape holly. It has glossy, thick, leathery evergreen leaves with sharp spiny edges. When the leaves are young they are sometimes purplish red or orange red. Later in winter the leaves turn a decorative red purple color.

Native Oregon Grape / Sensible Gardening and Living
Native Oregon Grape / Sensible Gardening and Living

If grown in poor soil it forms a dense low ground cover and if it receives better conditions it will quickly grow into a 4 to 5 foot specimen shrub. You can purchase dwarf varieties that stay around 2 to 3 feet tall. It does sucker and will spread around the garden but is not overly aggressive.  Oregon grape does not require any specific care and will grow in quite dry conditions.

In spring it puts forth clusters of bright yellow scented blooms than can be seen from anywhere. From these blooms it will produce tart blue black berries enjoyed by many bird species. The foliage also turns bright red in the fall.

Generally plant Oregon Grape in average to fertile well drained soil. Plant in full sun or partial shade. The bees love this plant and it is also deer proof.

This shrub is native here in the Okanagan but it can be purchased through the nursery trade. It’s a great shrub to have in your yard in the winter for making Christmas decorations.

Oregon Grape is a care free shrub that adds a punch of color to the spring garden.


evergreen for year round interest / holly substitute / stiking spring color / berries / deer proof / bee plant


leaves can dessicate in windy areas / suckers

This post can also be viewed as a VIDEO at Sensible Gardening You Tube Channel


6 thoughts on “Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

  1. They do love it. We are lucky that is grows all over our farm naturally as it really helps with the apiary. Thanks for visiting Gail:)

  2. I really appreciate your blog! I just took a picture of this type of shrub on my last walk, hoping to identify it later. Here it is on your post. Thanks (and great timing!)
    Take care,

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