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Mahonia (Berberis) nervosa

Common Name:
Longleaf mahonia
Plant Type:
Evergreen shrub
Berberidaceae (The Barberry Family)
Geographic Origin:
California Native?:
Plant Size:
2-5 feet high
Landscape/Garden Uses:
shade gardens
Flowering Season:
Spring and summer
Flower Color:
Light shade
Well-drained soil
Suggested Irrigation:
Moderate to occasional watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 0 degrees F. or less
This forest native from California and the Pacific Northwest is quite distinct from other mahonias. It grows slowly, eventually making loose colonies of solitary stems, each usually 1 foot or less high. The leaves can be 1 foot long or more and made up of up to 20 satiny, deep green leaflets. These take on a beautiful purple cast in winter. The bright yellow flowers are borne in erect sprays up to 8 inches long. Berries are of the usual "mahonia blue". This is definitely a plant for shady nooks, performing better near the coast and in the mountains than in areas with hot, dry summers. Otherwise it is trouble-free. Light shade, well drained soil, moderate to occasional watering.