Oregon Grape

Mahonia nervosa

Oregon Grape

APPEARANCE

Oregon Grape is a tall evergreen plant with pairs of spiny leaves growing from stems that can be up to 60 centimetres long. The leaves turn purple and red in the winter. It has bright yellow flowers and blue berries.

RANGE & HABITAT

Dull oregon grape is found from southwest B.C. and Vancouver Island all the way to northern California. It likes both dry and moist areas and is often found growing under douglas fir trees. In B.C. this plant is found in the Georgia Depression ecoprovince.

LIFE CYCLE

The yellow flowers appear in early spring and ripen into blue berries that look like they are covered in a white powder.

ANIMAL USES

Birds, bears and other small mammals love the berries, and deer and other herbivores graze on the spiny leaves.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Many First Nations ate the berries especially when mixed with a sweeter berry like Salal. The bark of the stems and roots was shredded to make a bright yellow dye, and the bark and berries were used for medicine for the liver and eyes. Some groups thought that the berries were a very strong antidote for shellfish poisoning.

MODERN USES

The berries are used to make jelly and some folks make wine from them too.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.linnet.geog.ubc.ca

Photo: Nikko Snow