Whilst other plants seem to be slumbering in the cold time of winter, the evergreen mahonia plant, with a silent contentious spirit bears its lovely, yellow, scented blossoms. In the crisply cold air, where the beauty of other shrubs and plants seems to dwindle, this flowering plant stands out as one of the perfect options to bring back life and adornment to your garden when the snow has spread its cold white blanket over most other shrubbery.
The plant is originally from Asia- around the stately Himalayas and China. It was brought from China to Europe in the 1800s. The luscious purple berries of this plant attracted many a bird, and its seeds brought by way of flight made way for some of its species to travel to USA naturally, and take root in the landscapes there.
There are about 45 species of this plant in Asia, and around 16 in North and Central America. There are some in parts of Europe too.
The botanist Bernard McMahon, undertook the first overland expedition by the United States, called Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Coast and back. He introduced the plant to the United States, and the plant is named in his honor. There have been over 70 species of this plant recorded so far (worldwide).
Species in Asia
- Mahonia bealei
- Mahonia bodinieri
- Mahonia bracteolata
- Mahonia breviracema
- Mahonia conferta
- Mahonia confusa
- Mahonia decipiens
- Mahonia duclouxiana
- Mahonia eurybracteata
- Mahonia fordii
- Mahonia fortunei
- Mahonia gracillipes
- Mahonia hancockiana
- Mahonia japonica
- Mahonia leptodonta
- Mahonia lomariifolia
- Mahonia longibracteata
- Mahonia mairei
- Mahonia media
- Mahonia monyulensis
- Mahonia napaulensis
- Mahonia nitens
- Mahonia oiwakensis
- Mahonia setosa
- Mahonia sheniii
- Mahonia sheridaniana
- Mahonia siamensis
- Mahonia taroneasis
- Mahonia veitchiorum
- Mahonia aquifolium
- Mahonia arguta
- Mahonia dictyota
- Mahonia eutriphylla
- Mahonia fremontii
- Mahonia gracilis
- Mahonia haematocarpa
- Mahonia nervosa
- Mahonia nevinii
- Mahonia pinnata
- Mahonia pumila
- Mahonia repens
- Mahonia swaseyi
- Mahonia toluacensis
- Mahonia trifolia
Although the plant looks strong, it cannot withstand too much of the scorching sun and harsh weather with whipping winds, as it is a shade-loving shrub. It grows best when it is shielded from winds and in partial sunlight. It grows and flourishes on well-drained, moist, and fertile soil. The soil pH is inclined toward being slightly acidic. The soil has to be fertilized at least once in a year. Although the plant does not require constant pruning for its growth, you can always prune it for aesthetic appeal. The best time to prune it is very early spring, before any new growth appears.
Around spring time, the shrub has yellow flowers blooming upon it, and this makes a pretty picture of the landscape it's set against. These fawningly-bright yellow flowers turn into very glaucous blue-purple berries.
Most Commonly-Grown Species
- It is very popular, and is commonly known as the Oregon grape holly. It resembles holly plants.
- It is quite widely spread in the forests of North America. A lot of gardens and parks house this plant.
- Its leaves are leathery and pinnate with a rather glossy upper surface and a jagged and thorny edge. They are green in spring, and tend to become reddish-purple as the cold approaches.
- The reason why a lot of plants have leaves that are reddish, is because they have pigments like the antioxidant- anthocyanin, which helps them take in only blue-green light without the UV rays and less photons from the sunlight to avoid cell-damage to the leaves, thus protecting the tissues of the plant from photo-inhibition. So, hot and dry places aren't tolerated too well by this shrub.
- It has antibiotic properties and has been used medicinally to treat gall-bladder problems, ailments of the stomach, such as diarrhea and dyspepsia.
- Its roots are quite a nutritional aid for the digestive system and blood circulation.
- It is also used to treat the liver and kidneys. It is also available in the form of a capsule in drug-stores.
- A Scottish botanist and traveler, Robert Fortune introduced the Chinese mahonia plant to Europe in the 1800s. That is how this plant got its name.
- This particular species is a medium-sized shrub that grows up to 6-8 ft.
- It is a bit more fern-like in appearance with its fronds shooting out to form a primordial yet graceful green fountain of leaves. The leaves are 6" to 12" long, having 7 to 12 leaflets.
- The light-setting that works well for this plant is from partial to full shade. For instance, partial shade can be under the partial-filtered light seeping through mosaic of leaves of other plantation; and full shade is when it is placed amidst stony shades cast by a building or your house. The north and north-eastern sides of a building are apt as there is shade on these sides for most of the time.
- Regular watering is required for this tree in its first growing season so that you ensure for roots to grow deeper and more extensively in the soil, giving it a stable health. Later, watering can be done on a weekly basis. And in extreme heat, it is best to water it more often to keep it cool.
- The kind of soil it needs is sandy and clay-like. It isn't the hardiest of all the types.
- It is good for foundation landscaping and looks exceptionally good in places with a modern Zen theme and ambiance.
- Also known as mahonia bealei, this shrub grows up to 8 or 10 feet, which is around 3 meters tall, and about 6 feet or 1.8 meters wide.
- Its blue-green leaves turn to a slowly fading gold, and then to a rich red-burgundy.
- Its leaves are stiff, pinnate, and sharply spiny. Owing to the texture and the thickness of its leaves, it is also called leather-leaf mahonia.
- In the time of very late winter and early spring, it begins to burst into fragrant yellow blossoms, which then turn into clusters of its purple, grape-like berries. If one were to collect its seeds in late-spring, the seeds will germinate beautifully.
- It is quite drought-tolerant, and has a strong resistance against serious insect-problems and diseases.
- It shouldn't be watered over the requirement of keeping the soil firm and moist. Watering plants excessively can take away the oxygen from their roots, and lead to disease such as root and stem rot.
Behind the sturdy and thorny exterior, this plant is one of the most attractive and beautiful species of shrubs and bushes; especially, if you're considering landscaping and want to add to the beauty of your garden's vistas.