Mahonia repens
Common Name: creeping mahonia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Western and central North America
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained, acidic soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, humusy soils. If large area is to be covered, 8-12 plants per square yard should be sufficient. Appreciates a protected location in USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Mahonia repens, commonly called creeping Oregon grape or creeping barberry, is a low-growing, stoloniferous, evergreen shrub or shrublet which typically grows to 1' tall and spreads by underground stems to form an attractive ground cover. Features holly-like, odd-pinnate, compound leaves with oval, spiny-toothed, leathery, bluish-green leaflets (usually 3-7). Foliage turns purplish in winter. Deep yellow flowers appear in small racemes (1-3") in spring and are followed by small clusters of grape-like, dark bluish-purple berries (1/4" diameter) which mature in late summer. Berries are very sour but edible and can be used in jellies. Yellow stem wood was used by Native Americans to produce yellow dyes and a bitter tonic. Synonymous with Berberis repens.

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

Specific epithet means creeping.


Susceptible to rusts and leaf spots. Chlorosis can be a problem in alkaline soils. Leaf scorch may occur in winter, especially when plants are grown in exposed areas. Occasional insect visitors include aphids, scale and whitefly.


Excellent evergreen ground cover for sunny areas.