Friday, March 25, 2011

Mahonia in the Cascadia Garden

 Mahonia pinnata 'Ken Hartman' August 2008

Mahonia mairei January 2010

Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) January 2010

Mahonia mairei June 2009

Mahonia repens July 2010

Mahonia gracilipes October 2010

 Mahonia gracilipes September 2010

These are the Mahonia in my garden in Seattle.  Last summer a garden tourist said to me, 'You have a LOT of Mahonia!'  I didn't think so, because I had only 7 species.  But I think Mahonia is quite conspicuous.  They are always evergreen, often quite large, sometimes spreading.  I do have a lot of Mahonia nervosa because it spreads stoloniferously.  It is not particularly difficult to pull out.  The sharp-toothed leaves of Mahonia can be alarming.  I have seldom been stuck.  But I wouldn't plant it close to the sidewalk.  To my mind, only Mahonia aquifolium has a common name: Oregon Grape.  The word Mahonia is very commonly used, which leads to common names such as Longleaf Mahonia for Mahonia nervosa & Leatherleaf Mahonia for Mahonia bealei.  Why not use the specific epithet & be done with it?  Mahonia generally seems to do well in shade.  Mahonia bealei seems to require shade.  Mahonia aquifolium, Mahonia nervosa & Mahonia pinnata do well in sun.  Mahonia most often bloom in winter or early spring.  They produce beautiful purple fruits during the summer.  These are edible & very tart.  Mahonia gracilipes blooms in fall with very distinctive flowers.  I got Mahonia gracilipes & Mahonia mairei from Heronswood in 2002.  I think they are not easy to find.

List of Mahonia in the Cascadia Garden
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape): a Pacific Northwest native
Mahonia bealei: from China
Mahonia gracilipes: from China
Mahonia mairei: from China, there is little information about this plant on the web.
Mahonia nervosa: a Pacific Northwest native
Mahonia pinnata ‘Ken Hartman’: a California native
Mahonia repens: a Pacific Northwest native

1 comment:

Karen said...

Hi Jordan - I used to consider mahonia prosaic and un-nifty but have changed my tune now that I realize its value to wildlife and also having seen some of the varieties you show. The rare Herronswood ones - those are so lovely!