Friday, February 15, 2013

Japanese Holly -- or Not?

I had always believed the plant pictured above to be called "Japanese Holly", however after an afternoon of research, I discovered it to be a "Mahonia." As, there are seventy different species of the Mahonia, I'm not sure if it is Mahonia "Bealei" (Leatherleaf) or Mahonia "Japonica" (could be where I got the name Japanese Holly). But what I do know that it is an aggressive type of holly that with time can become invasive in landscapes (like mine) if left to do it's on thing. The Mahonia shrub is native to northeastern China and was transported to Europe in the 1800s. And then like many non-native invasive plants made it's way to the new America.

An evergreen this plant grows between 4 to 8 feet in height and 4 to 6 feet in width. It blooms with yellow bell-shaped flowers late fall through winter then develops bright blue berries in spring through summer. Because the flowers attract bees and the berries attract birds, it has naturalized itself in parts of the United States. And although most varieties need moist soil in full sun to partial shade, obviously the species in my yard is among the variety being drought resistant, as I have never applied one drop of water.

Due to the abundance of prickly leaves it has been used as a security planting as it can be a deterrent to invaders or passersby under windows and along fence lines. The Mahonia is also used to add interest to landscapes as an ornamental.

Too, I discovered that the berries can be used to make jams and jellies, but cautiously, I would do more research before spreading it on my toast or muffin.

Seedlings spring up all over my property by bird droppings and like my privet and bamboo invasion, I rate the Mahonia as #3 as a non-native aggressor in my yard.

As seen above this seedling has invaded the space of this large pecan tree. Several feet away one has almost eradicated a pink weigela bush.
The USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service lists the Mahonia as an invasive plant or noxious weed. Several states, such as Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee list it on there prohibited plant list. Check out for more information on Mahonia and other invasive plants in your yard.
I hope enlightening you to the types of invasive plants in my yard helps in identifying and ridding your yard of unwanted aggressive plants. If, I can help send me a comment and I'll respond, ASAP.
Until next time..........
Happy Gardening 2013!
Posted by Wilma Smith

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