Montana Outdoors

April 24, 2008

Oregon Grape

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures, Wildflowers — Tags: — montucky @ 6:33 pm

The Oregon Grape, mahonia repens, AKA creeping barberry, has begun to bloom here in western Montana despite the snow we’ve had nearly every night this week.

Its fruit consists of tiny light blue berries that can be made into great wine or delicious jelly. If you taste the berries right off the plant though, you will discover a brand new standard for the concept of sour!

More information is available by visiting the USDA Plants Profile and doing a search for it. This site doesn’t refer to it as Oregon Grape though: I guess the USDA doesn’t know it’s the state flower of Oregon.

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape


  1. They look beautiful! BTW, I have many exotic fruits in my garden belonging to the citrus family. And every time I have tasted some of them, my definition of ‘sour’ has changed multi-fold! 🙂


    Comment by Sumedh — April 25, 2008 @ 1:13 am

  2. I wouldn’t mind sampling some of that wine from these guys Terry..;)


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — April 25, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  3. Sumedh,

    When I lived in Arizona we had quite a few citrus varieties too so I know what you mean. I imagine with the climate you have there you can have lots of plant variety!


    Comment by montucky — April 25, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  4. Bernie,

    I’ve never tried making wine myself, but with all of these that are blooming this year I might have to try. Well, maybe jelly at least.


    Comment by montucky — April 25, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  5. Stunning photographs! I’ve never tried making wine either but have been tempted to give it a try. Although, I have in mind a friend who made his own wine and nearly killed his wife with food poisoning! On second thought, I think I’ll leave the wine making to the pros … I have made jelly with some success. That is, when I can get to the blackberries before the squirrels … 😀


    Comment by Janet Wilkins — April 25, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

  6. We made some great chokecherry jelly and syrup last fall and I’m ready to do that again this year. That’s great stuff! We had problems making it jell though, and most batches came out about a third jelly and the rest syrup, even though they were all done exactly the same was. I like both versions though so it was OK. Rather than compete with squirrels for the berries though, here it’s the bears.


    Comment by montucky — April 25, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  7. I noticed ours started to bloom as well. They are pretty when there is little color outside. The grass is a welcome sight that’s for sure! Pretty shooting Tex! I really like the second to the last shot!


    Comment by aullori — April 25, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

  8. The color from these is very welcome right now. With the cold weather we’ve had, the regular flowers haven’t begun to bloom yet. I think they are pretty in their own right though too.


    Comment by montucky — April 25, 2008 @ 9:49 pm

  9. The state flower of Oregon? No kidding? That shrub was one of the first plants that stuck in my mind (and foot). In the sandy eastern part of North Carolina, my grandmother had one planted on the front foundation of her home. She kept it trimmed in a perfectly round ball, if you can imagine. All of her foundation planting was trimmed in perfect balls. We loved to go barefooted at Grandmother’s house because the soft sand felt so good. The trimmed pieces of the spiny leaves would stick in my little bare feet, however, and that made me remember it. She called it Oregon Grape Holly. My dad just called it Mahonia. I have several large shrubs of it growing around my house here but I have never seen it growing in the wild.


    Comment by nouveaufauves — April 25, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

  10. That’s really interesting! I didn’t know they could be cultivated or that they would become large. All I’ve seen around here are small and very low growing, usually almost under other plants. The fruit is in small clumps and the plants are usually fairly well spread out.


    Comment by montucky — April 26, 2008 @ 8:20 am

  11. It’s nice to know that spring is proceeding despite the fact that winter’s not quite letting go.

    Those are lovely flowers, cheerful and warm-looking despite the snow.


    Comment by Sara — April 26, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  12. Nice. That’s one pretty flower! Well, actually, it’s a lot of pretty flowers, isn’t it?


    Comment by Jennifer — April 26, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  13. Sara,

    Yes, they have brought cheer until the rest get started. We will hit nearly 60 today so maybe there will be others soon.


    Comment by montucky — April 26, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  14. Jennifer,

    Yes, they make their own little bouquets, and they really stand out in contrast to whatever green there is already and the brown grasses of winter. Then they seem to disappear until fall when they are visible again as light blue berries.


    Comment by montucky — April 26, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

  15. Beautiful pictures! The Mr. was gaping at the amount of snow in your other pictures, as well.

    I wanted to read about this Oregon grape you were talking about, so I pulled up the link. Apparently you can’t link to searches you have made there. So I copied the scientific name you gave, and came up empty. But when I searched for the common name, creeping barberry, I had luck. (It apparently grows in Kansas too, and I think maybe I have seen it in Central Kansas. Don’t remember if they are sour or not though.)

    Mahonia repens creeping barberry

    Er…*blush* you need to exchange that “r” in the scientific name for an “n”.


    Comment by katkmeanders — April 29, 2008 @ 12:05 am

  16. Thanks for catching the error, Katk! I made the corrections to the post. I wonder why that site won’t link to the information! One would think they would like folks to do that.


    Comment by montucky — April 29, 2008 @ 8:22 am

  17. i really love plants!


    Comment by Anonymous — June 4, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

  18. Wow I love the plant it is very kool


    Comment by kim — May 31, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

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