USA Official State Flower Official Oregon State Flower


Oregon Grape

(Berberis aquifolium)
Adopted in 1899.


A low growing plant, the Oregon Grape, Berberis aquifolium, is native to much of the Pacific Coast and found sparsely east of the Cascades. It was adoted in 1899. Its year-round foliage of pinnated, waxy green leaves resembles holly. The plant bears dainty yellow flowers in early summer and a dark blue berry that ripens late in the fall. The fruit can be used in cooking. Oregon grape is a close relative of barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and as with its cousin, the plant's medicinal portion is the root. Although Oregon grape originated in North America, it now also grows in Europe.



Oregon hollygrape is a low-growing shrub from 2 to 5 feet in height, resembling the holly of the Eastern States. The leaves are divided like those of an ash; the five to nine leaflets from 2 to 3 inches long and about 1 inch wide are evergreen, thick, leathery, smooth, and shining on the upper surface with marginal spines. The numerous small yellow flowers appear in April and May and are borne in erect clusters. The fruit consists of a cluster of blue berries. The rootstock and roots are more or less knotty, about an inch or less in diameter, with tough yellow wood and brownish bark.

  • Other Common Names: Agrecillo, Berberi, Epine Vinette, Holly-Leaved Barberry, Holly-leaf Oregon-grape, Mahonia, Mountain Grape, Yerba De Sangre, Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium
  • Leaf: Pinnately compound (oddly), alternate, persistent; 10 to 18 inches long, 11 to 21 broadly lanceolate leaflets each 2 to 3 inches long. Leaflets are dark, glossy green above and paler green below; thick, waxy cuticles and spined teeth along their margins. Lateral leaflets are opposite and sessile, while the terminal leaflet has a petiole; leaflets lack a distinct midrib.
  • Flower: Monoecious, perfect, small bright yellow flowers are borne in long, upright racemes.
  • Fruit: Small (3/16 inch), dark blue berries, edible, but sour.
  • Twig: Unbranched; compound leaves emerge directly from main stem. Main stem is stout and brown; leaves are clustered at the terminal end. Lanceolate bud scales persist for several years.
  • Bark: Reddish brown, scaly and rough.
  • Form: A short, erect, unbranched evergreen shrub seldom over 3 feet
  • Habitat and range. - This shrub is native in woods in rich soil among rocks from Nebraska to the Pacific Ocean, but it is especially abundant in Oregon and northern California.


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Coniferophyta – Conifers
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Magnoliidae –
Order Ranunculales –
Family Berberidaceae – Barberry family
Genus Mahonia Nutt. – barberry
Species Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt. – hollyleaved barberry