Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquaifolium) is a ground hugging plant found locally in the Robson Valley in the drier more open forests and rocky hillsides. We don’t see much of it around our house, so it caught my eye the other day when we went on our little hike at the Natasha Boyd Conservation Area. It was in bloom and I hadn’t remembered that it had yellow flowers.
The glossy leaves with spike-like edges always remind me of holly trees. The flowers turn into “grapes,” blue berries that are small and edible but with large seeds, so aren’t often gathered. First Nation people did use the plant for everything from making yellow dye from the stems and roots, to medicines, and of course eating. The berries can be made into a tasty juice and jelly if you can gather enough berries. Some people use the attractive plant as an ornament in their gardens.
Oregon Grape has a special meaning to me because I did a painting of one whose leaves were coloring in the autumn.
You can see my painting, "Oregon Grape" at: www.davidmarchant.ca