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Leatherleaf Mahonia

Mahonia bealei

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Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei) at Glenwild Garden Center

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Leatherleaf Mahonia

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  10 feet

Spread:  5 feet

Sunlight:  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  4b

Other Names:  Beal's Barberry


Interesting blue-green foliage resembles holly leaves; the spiny leaves are held on long branches giving this upright shrub fabulous texture; treasured for its bold clusters of bright yellow flowers; great for screening or borders

Ornamental Features

Leatherleaf Mahonia has attractive bluish-green evergreen foliage on a plant with an upright spreading habit of growth. The spiny oval pinnately compound leaves are highly ornamental and turn an outstanding purple in the fall, which persists throughout the winter. It features bold racemes of fragrant yellow flowers rising above the foliage in mid spring. It produces powder blue berries from late summer to early fall.

Landscape Attributes

Leatherleaf Mahonia is a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Leatherleaf Mahonia is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Leatherleaf Mahonia will grow to be about 10 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years.

This shrub does best in partial shade to shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This species is not originally from North America.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Massing  Garden  Naturalizing 
Flowers  Fruit  Foliage Color  Fall Color  Winter Value  Attracts Wildlife 
Ornamental Features