WSU Clark County Extension

PNW Plants Searchable, categorized images

Creeping Mahonia

Scientific name: Mahonia repens

Type:Groundcovers evergreen
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Plant Characteristics
Height:2 ft
Width:3 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April to May
Bloom Color:Yellow
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description A low spreading, Northwest native groundcover, featuring yellow flowers and clumps of blue fruits that attract wildlife.

Creeping mahonia (also known as creeping hollygrape) is classified as an evergreen, rhizome forming groundcover. It bears 1” to 2” long bluish green to grayish green ovate leaves (resembling holly) with spines. Leafy stems are 5” to 7” long, bearing 3-7 leaflets. In the fall these leaves turn a pleasing reddish purple hue. Over time single plants spread by both underground rhizomes, as well as above ground stolons. A large clump of plants makes an excellent mat for erosion control, especially on hill sides.

In April yellow flowers appear on the stems. Latter in the summer berries arise from the bloom. The blackish fruit have a blue cast, and are often arranged in a grape-like cluster. Birds love to eat the berries. While the berries are very sour, they are edible and can be used in jellies.

This plant is widely adapted to a multitude of sites. It prefers full sun, and cooler climates. It grows from northern California well into British Columbia. Once established it is considered drought tolerant. For gardeners preferring native plants this would be an excellent choice. It is also a good choice for wooded sites as native white tail deer don’t feed on the foliage.

Pest free in the Northwest.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234