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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 theway to the ground.

Mahonia pinnata

Native from southernOregon to Southern California.To 4–5 ft. tall (often taller alongthe coast) and as wide. Similarto M. aquifolium but with spinier,more crinkly leaves; new growthoften shows lots of red andorange. Spikelike springtimeflower clusters; dark blue berries.‘Ken Hartman’ has dense,uniform growth. Full sun incooler areas, light shade in hottestclimates. No irrigationneeded (takes aridity betterthan M. aquifolium).

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