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New front yard: Mountaingrape has it made in the shade

Published: Saturday, May. 3, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Sep. 13, 2014 - 12:36 am

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.


Mahonia aquifolium var. repens

Size: Under 2 feet.

Bloom season: Spring.

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune to shape.

Exposure: Full sun to full shade; prefers partial shade or filtered sun (particularly in afternoon).

Water needs: Once established, water twice a month.

Snapshot: A favorite in California native gardens, this ground-cover form of Oregon grape looks good year round with handsome, glossy foliage. Native to the Sierra and other mountain areas, it thrives in dry shade such as under oaks. In spring, it bears bright yellow flowers that attract beneficial insects. Also called creeping Oregon grape, creeping mahonia or prostrate barberry, this drought-tolerant native isn’t a grape, but its purple-blue berries form in grapelike clusters. They’re a favorite of birds – and people like them, too. The fruit can be made into preserves or jam. See examples in the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove of the UC Davis Arboretum on the UC Davis campus.

• For more on the New Front Yard, click on

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See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at

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