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Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Mahonia aquifolium

Family Name:



Mahonia aquifolium is a variable size evergreen shrub that is rounded to spreading in form. Its leaflets are often confused with those of holly (Ilex spp.)leaves. The flowers are a bit later than those of Mahonia bealei, but are more showy. The foliage is not as coarse as that of Leatherleaf Mahonia and blends more readily with other landscape plants. The blue fruit can be a plus in the summer / fall.

Plant Habit or Use:

Small shrub, medium shrub, large shrub


partial sun, shade

Flower Color:


Blooming Period:

Spring, winter


site responsive, 3 ft to 10 ft


3 ft to 10 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Medium Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Medium Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: High Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

5, 6, 7, 8

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Mahonia aquifolium is probably not as well adapted to USDA zones 8 or 9 as is Mahonia bealei. Oregongrapeholly requires good drainage, a steady moisture supply (even in the winter), and an acid soil.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.