Mahonia gracilipes
Common Name: Oregon grape 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Southwestern China
Zone: 7 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Purplish-red with yellow centers
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade


Easily grown in moist, well-drained soils in part shade (morning sun or sun dappled shade) to full shade. Also tolerates full sun, particularly in the northern parts of its growing range. Established plants tolerate some soil dryness and drought. Site in locations protected from exposure to strong winds. Plants will spread by suckering. Unless naturalizing is desired, suckers should be promptly removed as they appear. Single specimen shrubs may fruit poorly. Grow more than one shrub together for best fruit production.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mahonia gracilipes, commonly known as Chinese mahonia, is a small, open-branching, suckering, evergreen shrub that typically matures to 4-5’ tall and as wide. It is native to forests, forest margins and lower alpine slopes in China (Szechwan and northeastern Yunnan), having been first described in 1887 from a plant found growing on Mount Omei in Szechwan. It was not collected from the wild until 1980 at which time it was introduced to the United Kingdom by British plantsman Roy Lancaster.

Pinnate-compound leaves (to 2’ long) have 2 to 4 pairs of oblong to lanceolate leaflets (each to 2-4” long) with a slightly longer terminal leaflet (to 6” long). Leaflets are dull dark green to blue green above and chalky white below. Tiny non-fragrant purplish-red flowers with yellow centers bloom in loose pendant racemes (to 20” long) from August to October (most other species of Mahonia bloom in spring). Flowers are followed by ornamentally attractive waxy blue-black fruits.

Genus name honors Bernard M'Mahon (1775-1816), American horticulturist and author of The American Gardener's Calendar (1806).

Specific epithet means having a slender stalk.


No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spots, powdery mildew and rusts may occur. Watch for aphids, scale and whiteflies.


Best in small groupings in partly shaded woodland areas. Shrub borders. Foundation plantings. Slopes. Open woodlands. Screen. Informal hedge.