“Ouch!” The loud cry coming from my mouth when accidentally I grab a sharp prickly leaf on the Oregon Grape plant that grows wild on our property. The green and red colored leaves on the plant blend in with the Salal and Evergreen Huckleberry bushes, so it is easy to not see the sharp ended points on the edges and ends of the leaves before it sticks into my skin.

The Oregon Grape is a Northwest native plant that grows from southeast Alaska to Northern California and is an exotic plant invading into the other wild plants growing nearby. Its growth can range from three feet to six feet, depending on the species, with spiny leathery leaves resembling holly; the stems are tough and twisty and rather corky. It blooms in the spring with bright yellow blossoms that attract bees before the lovely blue berries form on rust colored stems. The berries are edible but very sour and bitter to human taste; a few birds seem to tolerate the bitterness. only to obtain the nutrients.. In the fall the leaves will glow a range of colors from yellow, rust to red. These plants can be colorful in a native garden but need to be controlled to prevent spreading via their deep root system.

4 thoughts on “Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquafolium)

  1. Dear Sketching, I love the precision of your botanical drawing and painting as well as the natural history you include in your posts. The colors in this post are stunning.


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