Plants for Water Wise Pollinator Gardens: Creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens, Berberis repens, Berberis aquifolium var. repens)

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape January 26, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Plant Family 

Creeping mahonia in bloom
Photo credit: Bryant Olsen Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Barberry Family (Berberidaceae)

Common Names

Ash barberry
Creeping barberry
Creeping holly grape
Creeping mahonia
Creeping Oregon grape
Creeping western barberry
Dwarf Oregon grape
Holly grape
Mountain holly
Oregon barberry
Oregon grape


Creeping mahonia is a small woody evergreen shrub native mainly to western and northern North America. It is a long lived hardy plant that is adapted to USDA Zones 4 through 8 and grows on mountain slopes up to 10,000 feet.

Mahonia has a somewhat irregular shape and is about 2 feet tall and wide. Holly-like leaves and yellow clusters of flowers in spring and early summer make this plant an excellent tall groundcover with year round landscape interest. Dark blue/purple berries form after blooming in summer.

Mahonia is adapted to a wide variety of well drained soil types. This is one of the few native shrubs that that tolerates shade and sun.


birds and other wildlife are attracted to the berries


Additional Resources:

Fire Effects Information System - Berberis repens
USDA Plant Database


Nevada - Creeping barberry, creeping Oregon grape


Missouri Botanical Garden


Texas - Creeping Barberry, Creeping Hollygrape
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Datatbase




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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.