[The Oregon Grapes of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape

Berberis aquifolium

Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium

Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium (Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium)


Leaf of Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium (Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium)Characteristics:

Shining Oregon grape is the state flower of Oregon. Due to its shiny holly-like leaves, bluish berries and yellow flowers, it is prized as an ornamental. It is a spreading to erect shrub from 15-200 cm tall. The pinnately compound leaves have 5-11 leaflets, shiny on both surfaces, and spinulose or spiny on the leaf margins. Approximately 8-10 spiny teeth are found on each side of a leaflet. The leaflets are about 3-8 cm long and about 2-5 cm wide, with an oblong to ovate or ovate-lanceolate shape.

The several racemes are 3-8 cm long with the outer sepals or bracts somewhat greenish, from 2-3 mm long, and the inner sepals 6-8 mm long and bright yellow. The bilobed petals are oblong in shape and slightly shorter than the inner sepals. The berries are blue with a whitish bloom round-ellipsoid in shape, and from 7-14 mm long.


Habitat:

Shining Oregon grape may be found on rocky soils both in forests and among sagebrush. It especially favors open or exposed locations along roadways or rocky surfaces.


Range:

Shining Oregon grape is found from southern British Columbia south along the eastern base of the Cascades and to the coast to the southern Willamette Valley. It is found eastward across northern Washington to northeastern Idaho.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 100'-2500' east of Troutdale, OR to the eastern reaches of the gorge.


Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium (Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium)

Occasionally shining oregon grape can look like creeping oregon grape. This is one of those instances since the plants here are low growing with leaves with 5-7 leaflets. I've identified it as the former due to the leaflets twice as long as wide, but I'd probably want to return to this site and look at more plants to verify my identification. Photographed at Dancing Rock, Friends of the Columbia River Gorge property near Horsethief Butte.............April 20, 2012.

Ventral leaf surface of Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium (Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium) - Dorsal leaf surface of Holly-leaf Oregon Grape, Shining Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium (Synonyms: Berberis aquifolium var. aquifolium, Berberis nutkana, Mahonia aquifolium, Odostemon aquifolium)


Paul Slichter