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Zones 2B, 3-10, 14-24, 31-34, 39
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Partial, Shade
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Mahonia nervosa

Longleaf Mahonia, Low Oregon Grape
Berberidaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

MAHONIA

Related to barberry (Berberis) and described under that name by some botanists. Easy to grow; good looking all year. Typically spiny-edged leaves are divided into leaflets; foliage can be quite prickly, so avoid setting mahonias too close to walkways or in other areas where they might snag passersby.

Yellow flowers are borne in dense, rounded to spike-like clusters and followed by berrylike, typically blue or blue-black (sometimes red or brown) fruit with a powdery bloom. Generally disease resistant, though foliage is sometimes disfigured by a small looper caterpillar. Fruit of all mahonias attracts birds. In general, pruning is needed only to remove old, damaged stems or to correct rank growth; cut those stems all the way to the ground.

Mahonia nervosa

Native from British Columbia to Northern California, mostly west of the Cascades. Grows to 2 ft. tall (3–4 ft. tall in its native woods) and 3 ft. wide, spreading by underground stems. Clustered at the stem tips are 10–18-in.-long leaves divided into 9 to 19 leaflets, each 1–3 in. long; plant creates the impression of a stiff, leathery fern. Early spring flowers are borne in upright, 3–6-in.-long clusters. Blue berries. Use as a woodland groundcover, facing for taller mahonias, or as a low barrier plant. Partial or full shade; little to moderate water. This plant is an excellent choice for dry shade.

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