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Featured Plant Of The Month

There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot or to choose one of the trails to walk. Learn more about the plants at the Arboretum by visiting our Previously Featured Plants list and our Special Seasonal Featured Plants page.


Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei)

Mahonia Plant Mahonia Leaves Mahonia Flowers

Leatherleaf Mahonia (also known as Beale’s Mahonia) is a native of China that has been planted extensively and is a potential invader of Southeastern woodlands. This upright, evergreen shrub produces terminal clusters of fragrant yellow flowers between January and early March. At the Arboretum, it is found, among other places, along parts of the Tulip Poplar and Heath Cove trails and is frequently observed under forest canopies and along forest edges throughout the Oak Ridge area. It has dark green, alternate pinnately compound leaves with sharp, spiny leaflets somewhat resembling holly leaves. This upright shrub produces grape-like clusters of bluish-gray fruits in early summer which are attractive to birds. A related species Mahonia aquifolium with similar fruit is known as Oregon Grape. The Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council lists Mahonia bealei in its “Emerging Threats” category because of its invasive characteristics.


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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu