Plant, Herb, and Tree Lore

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Olympic National Park (, Washington. Exploring Olympic Peninsula - Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 25, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

Olympic National Park (, Washington.

Name: Mahonia aquifolium

Common Names: Oregon Grape, oregon-grape, oregon grape-holly, oregon holly-grape, oregongrape.

Description: A common species of the flowering evergreen shrub Berberidacea. Plant grows to 1 meter high x 1.5 meter in width has large pinnate leaves that grow approx. 10-50 cm in length with 5-15 spiny leaflets, and it flowers yellow clusters in racemes that are approx. 5-20 cm in length. Tends to have spiny, evergreen foliage with yellow flowers in the autumn, winter, and early spring. Produces blue-black berries.

Locality: Primarily from the Pacific Coast of North America. Name “aquifolium” means “holly leaved” referring to its spines.

Growing: Popular in shady or woodland environments. Resistant to summer drought and tolerates poor soils.

Culinary/Common Uses: Often used as a popular garden shrub or as an ornamental. Berries are edible and high in Vitamin C. Aboriginal peoples ate the berries in small quantities and mixed them with other sweeter fruits such as Salal. Today used to make jellies or mixed with salal. Its juices have been fermented to make wines. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots produce a yellow die, the berries a purple dye.

Medicinal Uses: Although edible, the plant contains berberine which can cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lethargy, and other effects if eaten in large quantities. Native American tribes have used it to treat dyspepsia. Some etrats have been used to treat inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis.

Magical Uses:

Folklore: State flower of Oregon


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