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Berberis nervosa

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About Oregongrape (Berberis nervosa) Berberis nervosa commonly known as dwarf Oregon-grape, Cascade Oregon-grape, or dull Oregon-grape, is a flowering plant native to the northwest coast of North America from southern British Columbia south to central California, with an isolated population inland in northern Idaho. It is especially common in second growth, Douglas-fir or Western Redcedar forests, making use of those pools of sunlight that intermittently reach the ground.The plant was collected by Lewis and Clark during their famous expedition to the West before being described for science in 1813.

It is an evergreen shrub with short vertical stems, mostly under 30 cm (12 in), while the leaves reach higher, rarely up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) tall. The leaves are compound, with 9-19 leaflets; each leaflet is strongly toothed, reminiscent of holly, and somewhat shiny, but less so than tall Oregon-grape. The leaflets do not have a single central vein as in that species, but several veins arranged fan-like, branched from the leaflet base, hence the epithet nervosa. The flowers and fruit are like those of other Oregon-grapes, and are equally bitter-tasting. Some Plateau Indian tribes drank an infusion of the root to treat rheumatism.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 7 ft (0.3 - 2.1 m)

Max. Width
7 ft (2.1 m)


Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Shady canyons and north-facing slopes primarily along the coast from Monterey County northward

Part Shade

Elevation ?
20' - 8906'

Annual Precip. ?
17.0" - 145.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.22" - 5.58"

Coldest Month ?
29.4° F - 49.4° F

Hottest Month ?
47.3° F - 74.2° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 23.31 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers well drained acidic soil

Soil PH
4.0 - 7.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -15° F

Sunset Zones ?
2, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8, 9, 10, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Companion Plants
Use with other plants of the north coast such as:
Trees - Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Grand Fir (Abies grandi), Maple (Acer sp.), Alder (Alnus sp.), Dogwood (Cornus sp.), Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Pines (Pinus sp.), Willow (Salix sp.), Coast Silktassel (Garrya elliptica), Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Oak (Quercus garryana or kelloggii)

Other companions: Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea), Bog Orchid (Platanthera sp.), Oceanspray (Holodicsus discolor), Lily (Lilium sp.), Seep Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.), Gooseberry (Ribes sp.), Yellow-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum), Hedgenettle (Stachys sp.)

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 3-7 mos. stratification may give satisfactory germination. The following alternative treatment improve germination: 30 days cold, 60 days warm, and 196 days cold stratification. During this last period, remove and pot germinating seeds bimonthly. Some additional germination will occur after the remaining seeds are sown, preferably in a cool location, i.e. outdoors in early spring (McLean 1967). It has been suggested that Berberis nervosa and Berberis pumila need No treatment. if the seeds are kept moist from the time they are cleaned until sown; they should be stored moist (stratified) for 7 mos. in the refrige rator for spring sowing (Eugene Baciu, personal communication 1964).

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Mahonia nervosa

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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