Mahonia aquifolium - Oregon grape

The evergreen low-growing Oregon grape flowers in May, the large erect clusters of small, bright yellow flowers forming in the uppermost leaf axils. The leaves themselves are usually glossy dark green with wavy edges, and prickly. Some of them turn bright red in autumn.

In autumn clusters of blue-grey berries decorate the shrub. The berry flesh is edible, though the seeds they contain may be slightly poisonous. The tangy sour flesh of the berries can be used to add taste to wines and jams, for example. A Finnish gardening book from 1950 already mentions that the berries make good marmalade.

Mahonia grows wild in the rich conifer forests of the North American west coast, thriving in shade or semi-shade with protection from cold winds and direct sunshine, especially in spring. In Finland snow cover is also beneficial. For company, rhododendrons make good partners. Oregon grape grows in several places at Mustila. In spring they are showy, the rest of the year they merge with the rest of the under story shrubs.


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