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Common Name:

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Scientific Name:

Mahonia bealei

Family Name:



Mahonia bealei is a coarse textured seldom branched suckering evergreen shrub. Although the leaves are pinnately compound, the leaflets closely resemble those of a holly (Ilex spp.). This is the most commonly utilized Mahonia in East and Central Texas. Leatherleaf Mahonia tolerates moderately dense shade. It is valued for its attractive late winter or early spring yellow flowers which are followed by chalky blue fruit. Leatherleaf Mahonia has a very bold form that is sometimes challenging to blend gracefully into the landscape.

Plant Habit or Use:

Shrub, small shrub, medium shrub



Flower Color:


Blooming Period:

Spring, winter


4 ft to 8 ft


3 ft to 6 ft, indefinite

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High 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:

7, 8, 9

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 Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Leatherleaf Mahonia may survive with some sun and on neutral soils, but it develops chlorosis and is generally unthrifty on such sites. The spiny leaf margins can be a maintenance liability.
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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.