Oregon Grape: These berries are in fact edible
- Binomial Name: Mahonia aquifolium
- Soil Type: Can tolerate dry or poor soil
- Sunlight: Part to full shade
- Plant Type: Tall, erect, multi-stemmed
- Plant Type: Shrub
- Foliage: Evergreen
- Flowering: Yes
The state flower of Oregon, the Oregon grape is NOT a true grape, but is actually related to barberry. The Pacific Northwest native’s dark blue/purple berries are dusty and clustered, thereby resembling grapes. To avoid confusion, Oregon grape is sometimes hyphenated (Oregon-grape), or referred to as Oregon grape-holly or Oregon holly-grape.
Oregon grape leaves are actually made up of 5-9 spiny, evergreen leaflets that resemble holly leaves. The leaves are reddish in color as they first emerge, eventually turning a dark and shiny green until winter, when the leaves become a dark burgundy. The shrub’s berries start out in early spring as clusters of bright yellow flowers.
There are numerous uses for Oregon grape. The wilt-resistant leaves are often used by florists, and the flowers and berries attract wildlife. The berries, in fact, are edible and used in a variety of recipes for juice and jelly – though these usually require an unusually high amount of sugar. While Oregon grape is tremendously popular in the Pacific Northwest, but has been classified as invasive in some areas outside of its native range, capable of displacing native vegetation.
This Native Plant of the Month is brought to you by the City of Beaverton’s Landscape and Urban Forestry Department. Visit Clean Water Service’s Native Plant Finder webpage for interactive questions to help you find the right native plant to fit your needs!