Mahonia trifoliolata
Common Name: mahonia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Southern United States, Mexico
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-9 where it may be grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Tolerates slightly alkaline soils. Tolerates 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 trifoliolata is an evergreen shrub which typically grows to 2-6' tall and as wide, and features (a) prickly, holly-like, trifoliate leaves, (b) fragrant bright yellow flowers and (c) globular red berries. It is native to flats and slopes in grassland, shrubby areas, rocky hillsides, pastures and open woodlands from western Texas to Arizona south to northern Mexico. Trifoliate leaves are gray-green, with each thick leaflet having 1-3 spiny teeth. Yellow flowers in axillary clusters bloom in early spring. Flowers are followed by edible berries that mature orange to red. Berries may be used to make jams and jellies. Berries are attractive to birds.

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

Specific epithet means with three leaves or leaflets.

A large number of common names have been given to this shrub including agarita, agarito, currant-of-Texas and Chaparral berry.


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


Best in small groupings in sunny areas. Shrub borders. Foundation plantings. Slopes. Open woodlands. Screen.