Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - a grape from Oregon?


One of our botanically inclined friends is not a big fan of flowering shrubs.  They only flower for one week a year, he complains.  Although TPP does have one or two exceptions to this rule, in general this is true.  So you had better plant a lot of different kinds of shrubs.  One shrub that we planted as an evergreen foliage plant turned out to be a rather attractive flowering shrub, a pleasant surprise.  Grapes do not have showy flowers, but the black, round berries are a bit grape-like.  The leaves are a bit stiff and holly-like, however the plant has compound leaves with 3 or 5 leaflets with spine tipped teeth along the notched margin.  In zone 5 this shrub seems quite hardy, unbothered by winter cold or late spring frosts.  The flowers are a very cheery bright yellow, and while not large they are in fist sized clusters.  This is Mahonia repens, and it does creep along with rhizomes although in our garden they don't seem to be an annoying spreader.  It is referred to as both a grape holly or a holly grape, but clearly is neither, it "not a grape", "not a holly" is a member of the barberry family.  

At this point in time lilacs, honeysuckles, azaleas (several var.), pearl bush (Exochorda), a very nice young Carolina silverbell tree, Fothergillas, and Kerria are also in flower.  

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