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Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Oregon Grape, Leatherleaf Mahonia

Common Name: Oregon Grape, Leatherleaf Mahonia

Scientific Name: Mahonia bealei

Identification: Oregon Grape is an evergreen shrub that may reach 4 to 6 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in width.  This shrub has large, pinnately compound leaves with 9 to 13 spiny leaflets.  The shrub is multi-stemmed and the bark is corky.  Fragrant, yellow flowers appear in winter.  Small, black fruits hang in grape-like clusters and mature in May and June.

Ecology: Oregon Grape prefers partial shade and moist soils.  The shrub forms dense thickets around old homesites and in wooded areas near cities.  This invasive shrub colonizes by seeds that are dispersed by birds.

Plant Control: Individual shrubs in the home landscape are probably best controlled by cutting the plant back to the ground in late summer and treating the cut ends with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable but 41% okay) or by digging up the rootball. Collect and bag any fruit.  Monitor for new seedlings and dig up as needed. 
 
Alternative Native Species: Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera), American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

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