Mahonia bealei (Fortune) Carr. - Oregon Grape
Family - Berberidaceae
Flowering - December - March.
Habitat - Commonly cultivated and escaped to woodlands, persistent around old homesites.
Origin - Native to China.
Other information - This species can be found cultivated throughout much of Alabama but is only infrequently escaped. The plant is easy to identify becasue if its corky stems, big, pinnately divided leaves (which have shiny green, pointed leaflets), and big clusters of yellow flowers. The flowers wilt quickly and become a bluish fruit.
The genus name Mahonia is given in honor of Bernard M'Mahon (1775-1816). M'Mahon came to the U.S. from Ireland in 1796 and began to export seeds of native North American plants back to Europe. By 1804 his list of seeds contained nearly 1000 species. His book - The American Gardener's Calendar - was THE gardening authority in America for nearly 50 years.
The species epithet bealei is given in honor of William James Beal (1833-1924). Beal was an outstanding botanist in North America. He taught at the Michigan Agricultural College from 1870 to 1910. Beal's accomplishments are many and are well beyond the scope of this web page. You can read more about Beal at this site.
Photographs taken off Lee Rd 27, Auburn, AL., 1-29-06.