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Zones 4-9, 14-24
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Mahonia pinnata

California Holly Grape
Evergreen, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries, Flowers


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 pinnata

Native from southern Oregon to Southern California. Grows to 4–5 ft. tall (often taller along the coast) and as wide. Similar to M. aquifolium but with spinier, more crinkly leaves; new growth often shows lots of red and orange. Spikelike springtime flower clusters; dark blue berries. ‘Ken Hartman’ has dense, uniform growth. Full sun in cooler areas, light shade in hottest climates. No irrigation needed (takes aridity better than M. aquifolium).

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