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Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape Mahonia aquifolium

Oregon Grape in bloom, photographer Shari Brewer

Oregon Grape is a highly adaptive plant ranging as far  as southeastern Alaska to northern California along the west coast.  The name "Mahonia" cmaes from American botanist Bernard M'Mahon.  The discovery of this beautiful native had quite an impact on the European gardens and was in high demand.  During the 1800s when the plant became available in England the plant could fetch prices of up to 20 pounds at that time a very considerable sum.

Oregon Grape plants, photographer Martha Rasmussen

The Holly like leaves have subtle prickles averaging 12 to 30 per leaf.  The leaves are shiny and young leaves having an appearance of being wet hence the second part of the name aquifolium, aqua, meaning water.  The flowers grow in tight clusters, each flower with six bright yellow petals enclose six bright yellow sepals.  At the base of the flower are three green-yellow bracts.

Native Americans used this plant in many ways from decotions & infusions of various parts of the plant to aide in itching to ailments of the liver.  The roots produced a yellow dye for baskets and clothing.  Both Native American & early settlers gather the fruit as a nice addition to their daily diet.

Oregon Grape fruit, photographer Shari Brewer

The dark blue berries, having somewhat an appearance of a cluster of grapes grows from the center of the plant ripen in midsummer and favorite food for many wildlife which also aide in the distribution of seeds and future propagation of the plants.

You will find Oregon Grape growing under mixed and conifer forest under-story and in full sun where the soil maintains several months of moisture