Appearance''M. aquifolium'' grows to 1–2 m tall by 1.5 m wide, with pinnate leaves up to 30 cm long, each leaf made up of spiny leaflets. The leathery leaves resemble holly and the stems and twigs have a thickened, corky appearance. The flowers, borne in dense clusters in late spring, are yellow, and are followed by spherical black berries with a white bloom, which give rise to the common name "Oregon grape".
NamingThe specific epithet ''aquifolium'' means "holly-leaved", referring to the spiny foliage. The common name is often left un-hyphenated as ''Oregon grape'', though doing so invites confusion with the true grapes. Some writers avoid this confusion by using "Oregon grape-holly", or "Oregon holly-grape" as a vernacular name for any species of mahonia. It also occasionally appears in print as ''Oregongrape''. There are several common species of Oregon-grape, many with numerous cultivated varieties . Among these are tall Oregon grape , cascade, low, or dwarf Oregon grape, , creeping Oregon grape .
Distribution''Mahonia aquifolium'' is a native plant on the North American west coast from Southeast Alaska to Northern California, occurring in the understory of Douglas-fir forests and in brushlands.
In some areas outside its native range, ''M. aquifolium'' has been classified as an invasive exotic species that may displace native vegetation....hieroglyph snipped......hieroglyph snipped...
UsesThe small purplish-black fruits, which are quite tart and contain large seeds, are included in smaller quantities in the traditional diets of Pacific Northwest aboriginal peoples, mixed with Salal or another sweeter fruit. Today they are sometimes used to make jelly, alone or mixed with salal. Oregon grape juice can be fermented to make wine, similar to European barberry wine folk traditions, although it requires an unusually high amount of sugar. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots of Oregon-grape yield a yellow dye; the berries give purple dye. As the leaves of Oregon-grape are holly-like and resist wilting, the foliage is sometimes used by florists for greenery and a small gathering industry has been established in the Pacific Northwest.
CulturalIt is the state flower of Oregon.
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