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Dwarf Mahonia
Berberis aquifolium var. repens
About Dwarf Mahonia (Berberis aquifolium var. repens) Nurseries Show All Photos Dwarf Mahonia (Berberis aquifolium var. repens) is a native plant, growing in the mountains and foothills of the northern part of California. It enjoys dry shade below 700 ft. It can be found as far north as SE Alaska and eastern Alberta to central New Mexico. Outside its native range it qualifies as invasive. Dense yellow clusters of flowers give way to round dusty dark purple-blue berries, hence the common name Oregon Grape. The edible berries can be used to make wine and purple dye. Some sources describe it as toxic, however. The inner stem gives a yellow dye.

Dwarf Mahonia is very drought tolerant, and very easy to grow, but it looks better with a little bit of summer water.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
2 - 3 ft (0.6 - 0.9 m)

Max. Width
5 ft (1.5 m)

Mounding, Spreading

Growth Rate


spiny, leathery pinnate leaflets resembling holly

Flower Color
Yellow, Purple

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Slopes, canyons, dry shade such as piny forest, oak stands, stream banks. Northern inland mountains below 7000'.

Full Shade, Part Shade

Elevation ?
35' - 9243'

Annual Precip. ?
12.9" - 156.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.47" - 6.33"

Coldest Month ?
25.3° F - 52.1° F

Hottest Month ?
47.1° F - 74.9° F

Humidity ?
0.35 vpd - 22.88 vpd

Soil Description
Alkaline to acidic, rocky

Soil Texture


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

Wildlife Attracted
Birds like the berries. Native bees love the flowers

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Moderately Popular

Pest Control

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 3-7 mos. stratification may give satisfactory germination. Easily propagated from divisions in spring or fall.

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Mahonia repens,Berberis repens,

Common Names
Creeping Barberry, Creeping Mahonia, Oregon Grape, Oregongrape, Trunkee Barberry

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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