Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon-grape or Oregon grape) is a species of flowering plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to western North America. It is an evergreen shrub growing to 1 m (3 ft) tall by 1.5 m (5 ft) wide, with pinnate leaves consisting of spiny leaflets, and dense clusters of yellow flowers in early spring, followed by black berries.
Etymology[edit source | edit]
The specific epithet aquifolium means "holly-leaved", referring to the spiny foliage. The common name is often (always in the UK) left un-hyphenated as Oregon grape, though doing so invites confusion with the true grapes. Some writers avoid this confusion by using "Oregon grape-holly", or "Oregon holly-grape" as a vernacular name for any species of mahonia. It also occasionally appears in print as Oregongrape. There are several common species of Oregon-grape, many with numerous cultivated varieties (cultivars). Among these are tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), cascade, low, or dwarf Oregon grape, (M. nervosa), creeping Oregon grape (M. repens).
Description[edit source | edit]
M. aquifolium grows to 1–2 m (3 ft 3 in–6 ft 7 in) tall by 1.5 m (5 ft) wide, with pinnate leaves up to 30 cm (12 in) long, each leaf made up of spiny leaflets. The leathery leaves resemble holly and the stems and twigs have a thickened, corky appearance. The flowers, borne in dense clusters in late spring, are yellow, and are followed by spherical dark dusty blue berries, which give rise to the common name "Oregon grape".
Taxonomy[edit source | edit]
Some authors place Mahonia in the barberry genus, Berberis. The Oregon-grape is not related to true grapes, but gets its name from the purple clusters of berries whose color and slightly dusted appearance are reminiscent of grapes.
Distribution[edit source | edit]
Cultivation[edit source | edit]
M. aquifolium is a popular subject in shady or woodland plantings. It is valued for its striking foliage and flowers, which often appear before those of other shrubs. It is resistant to summer drought, tolerates poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. Its berries attract birds.
Other Uses[edit source | edit]
The small purplish-black fruits, which are quite tart and contain large seeds, are included in smaller quantities in the traditional diets of Pacific Northwest aboriginal peoples, mixed with Salal or another sweeter fruit. Today they are sometimes used to make jelly, alone or mixed with salal. Oregon grape juice can be fermented to make wine, similar to European barberry wine folk traditions, although it requires an unusually high amount of sugar. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots of Oregon-grape yield a yellow dye; the berries give purple dye. As the leaves of Oregon-grape are holly-like and resist wilting, the foliage is sometimes used by florists for greenery and a small gathering industry has been established in the Pacific Northwest.
Medicinal use[edit source | edit]
Some Plateau Indian tribes used Oregon-grape to treat dyspepsia. The plant is used medicinally by herbalists. Oregon-grape root is commonly used medicinally as an effective alternative to the threatened goldenseal. Both plants similarly contain the alkaloid berberine, known as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial used in the treatment of infection.
Certain extracts from Mahonia aquifolium may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, although side effects include rash and a burning sensation when applied.
Recent studies indicate that M. aquifolium contains a specific multidrug resistance pump inhibitor (MDR inhibitor) named 5'-methoxyhydnocarpin (5'-MHC) which works to decrease bacterial resistance to antibiotics and antibacterial agents.
Culture[edit source | edit]
References[edit source | edit]
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
- Michael P. Williams (2012). "Berberis aquifolium, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora" (HTML). Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Introduced Shrubs of Birmingham and the Black Country
- North Carolina Botanical Garden / Conservation / Plants to Avoid in the Southeastern United States
- Plants to Avoid in the Southeastern United States Tennessee Invasive Exotic Plant List
- TN Invasive Exotic Plant List
- "RHS Plant Selector - Mahonia × wagneri 'Pinnacle'". Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Mahonia aquifolium 'Apollo'". Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Pojar, Jim; MacKinnon, Andy, eds. (1994). Plants of Coastal British Columbia: including Washington, Oregon & Alaska, rev. ed. Vancouver: Lone Pine Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-55105-532-9.
- Henderson, Robert K. (2000). The Neighbourhood Forager. Toronto, Ontario: Key Porter Books. p. 111. ISBN 1-55263-306-3.
- Bliss, Anne (1993). North American Dye Plants, rev. and enl. ed. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press. p. 130. ISBN 0-934026-89-0.
- Hunn, Eugene S. (1990). Nch'i-Wana, "The Big River": Mid-Columbia Indians and Their Land. University of Washington Press. p. 352. ISBN 0-295-97119-3.
- Howstuffworks "Oregon Grape: A Profile of an Alternative Medicine"
- Swedish herbalmedicinbook "Herbalmedicin: Natures healing power by Mic McMullen"
- Donsky, Howard; Don Clarke. "Relieva, a Mahonia Aquifolium Extract for the Treatment of Adult Patients With Atopic Dermatitis". Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- Rackova L, Oblozinsky M, Kostalova D, Kettmann V, Bezakova L (2007). "Free radical scavenging activity and lipoxygenase inhibition of Mahonia aquifolium extract and isoquinoline alkaloids". J Inflamm (Lond) 4: 15. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-4-15. PMC 1994948. PMID 17634120.
- Bernstein, Steve et al.. "Treatment of Mild to Moderate Psoriasis with Relieva, a Mahonia aquifolium Extract-A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study". Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- Stermitz FR, Lorenz P, Tawara JN, Zenewicz LA, Lewis K (February 2000). "Synergy in a medicinal plant: antimicrobial action of berberine potentiated by 5'-methoxyhydnocarpin, a multidrug pump inhibitor". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97 (4): 1433–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.030540597. PMC 26451. PMID 10677479.
- "State Symbols: Flag to Motto". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.