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Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grapeholly

Edward F. Gilman


With holly-like leaves, blue fruits, and striking yellow flowers, Oregon holly has much to offer in the landscape. Plants will grow in sun or shade but should be shaded in the winter to prevent the purplish leaves from browning. Transplanting is most successful with either potted or balled and burlapped plants. Oregon holly reaches three to seven feet tall with an equal spread. Plants grow moderately fast, spreading by the suckering root system.

General Information

Scientific name: Mahonia aquifolium
Pronunciation: mah-HOE-nee-uh awk-kwiff-FOLE-lee-um
Common name(s): Oregon grapeholly, Oregon hollygrape
Family: Berberidaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 8 (Figure 1)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: border; mass planting; container or above-ground planter; specimen; accent
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 1. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 1.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 3 to 6 feet
Spread: 3 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: spiny
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate; palmate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: winter flowering; spring flowering; pleasant fragrance


Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristic: attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Cultivars include 'Compacta'—about three feet tall; 'King's Ransom'—upright with bluish green leaves that turn bronze-red in winter, somewhat more tolerant of winter weather; 'Mayhan Strain'—dwarf with glossy leaves; 'Repens'—can be used as a ground cover.

Pests and Diseases

Several leaf spots may be seen, but infected leaves can be picked off and destroyed.

Publication #FPS-375

Date: 8/18/2015


    • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
    Organism ID

    About this Publication

    This document is FPS-375, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

    About the Authors

    Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


    • Gail Hansen de Chapman