image Mahonia bealei

Look closely and you’ll notice at bottom left the hidden ac unit.

Mahonia bealei | Leatherleaf Mahonia

STRENGTHS
A unique evergreen posessing pinatley compound leaves that look prehistoric and add great texture in the garden. Woodland naturalizing shrubs with branches that grow out in horizontal tiers. Although its leaves have an agressive appearance, learning a bit about it makes Mahonia shine in a new light. My favorites have a silvery chartruese tint. Fragrant lemon yellow flowers appear in late winter and burst into robin’s egg blue and then blue-black berries that dangle like grapes. Looks great in mass plantings and works well with grasses, coreopsis and ferns. Is often seen masking residential ac compressors, a stressful and rigorous job for any plant. Fantastic in deep shade in the deep South. It is a nice source of food for wildlife, too.

image Mahonia bealei

CARE
You don’t need to pull the volunteers that sprout in the spring. Most won’t last. Prune selectively on “THE 3 YEAR CYCLE”, prune 1/3 off of 1/3 of your plants each year. If you have 3 plants, each year prune 1/3rd of the branches off 1 of them. Keep moist with plenty of mulch.

NOTES
A relative of Barberries and Nandina (if you can believe it). It may not flower if it doesn’t get at least a couple hours of sun each day, though. Best position is one that gives 2-4 hours of morning sun. One of the only plants that can tolerate the heat of an ac unit nearby. Choose plants based on color, some are not as attractive as others. Not happy in cold.

RELATED VARIETIES | CULTIVARS | EXTRA INFO
Mahonia aquifolia | Oregan Grapeholly available 3′ to 7′/ 5′, very similar to M. bealei but redder in color with shiney leaves, nice in combo
Mahonia japonica | Japanese Mahonia available, almost identical to M. bealei, Dir says differences are not manifest, especially since individual plants are many times hybrids anyway.

variegated forms available
ZONES HARDINESS | SUN OR SHADE ….. 7 – 9 | part sun to (prefers) full shade
GROWTH RATE ….. slow
HEIGHT / WIDTH ….. 6′ to 10′
PLANT SHAPE & BRANCHING ….. Erect, rounded, horizontal branches, some stems shoot up tall
LEAF FORM & SHAPE ….. 9 to 13 leaflets, rigid and leathery, ovate, each leaflet is 1″ to 4″ long, 1″ to 2″ wide, terminal is largest, prominant spines
LEAF ARRANGEMENT ….. alternate, pinately compound
LEAF COLOR ….. Evergreen | many shades, matte green, often bluish on top and pale green below
FEATURES, BUDS, FLOWERS, FRUIT
FLOWERS | fragrant lemon yellow panicles in March-April
BERRIES | beautiful bright robin’s egg blue turning black
NATIVE HABITAT
SOIL does well in moist, slightly acid
Native to China introduced in 1845
image Mahonia bealei

image Mohonia bealei blooms

Beautiful vination on leaves. I really like this Mahonia bealei.