1. *Fremont’s mahonia – Berberis (Mahonia) fremontii
(BER-ber-is (ma-HO-nee-uh) free-MON-tee-eye )
Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)
Native to: The U.S. Southwest, including foothills of the Peninsular Ranges and South and Eastern
Mojave Desert; on well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate
slopes in Desert Chaparral, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, Joshua Tree Woodland (3000-5000 ft. elev.).
Growth characteristics: woody shrub/small tree mature height: 6-10 ft. mature width: 5-10 ft.
Upright, evergreen shrub or small tree with stiff, open branch pattern and rounded overall shape.
Leaves are compound, blue-green color and dull; leaflets have spine-tipped margins (like a holly).
Bark is red when young; furrowed and gray when mature.
Blooms/fruits: Blooms in spring or early summer – April to June. Flowers are small, bright yellow
and in clusters. Flowers attract native pollinators and are sweetly fragrant. Fruits are fleshy
berries, 1/3 to ¾ inch diameter, dark blue-purple when ripe. Like all Mahonias, fruits are edible but
tart. Best used cooked for jellies, syrup – or birds will eat what you don’t pick.
Uses in the garden: Most useful as an attractive water-wise shrub or pruned up into a tree. Fine
choice for hedgerow or large screen. Adds foliage color and leaf texture to garden. Roots and bark
used medicinally by Native Americans. Roots also produce a bright yellow dye. Leaves are prickly.
Sensible substitute for: Non-native shrubs like holly.
Attracts: Excellent habitat plant: provides cover, nectar (pollinators) and fruits for birds.
Sun Full sun to part-shade; probably best with afternoon shade in many local gardens.
Soil Any well-drained; pH: 6.0 to 8.0
Water Drought-tolerant once established; best treated as Zone 1-2 to 2 (occasional deep
water in summer).
Fertilizer ½ strength probably OK, but not entirely necessary.
Other Use inorganic or shallow organic mulch until established; let it self-mulch.
Management: Hardy, easy care (but prickly leaves). Light pruning to hedge-shearing, if desired.
Propagation: from seed: fresh, cleaned seed best; otherwise 2-3 mo. cold-moist by cuttings: yes
Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 13 4/1/14
* not native to western Los Angeles County, but a CA native © Project SOUND