|IT WILL BE A SEASONABLY WARM BUT BEAUTIFUL DAY|
|OREGON GRAPE HOLLY BERRIES|
Tuesday, 8:00 AM. 70 degrees F, wind N, calm. The sky is crystal clear except for the usual haze over the Islands. The humidity is high at 84% but the barometer is rising so it should be a seasonably warm but pleasant day.
The Oregon grape holly, Mahonia aquifolia, in the herb garden has borne its grape-like fruit again this year. I am continually amazed at the beauty of this plant, which has tough, shiny dark green leaves which resemble those of American holly, although it is in the barberry family (Berberidaceae). It has fragrant, bright yellow flower spikes in early summer, which the bees love. It is native to British Columbia and the Oregon Cascade Mountains and is hardy to zone five. The only word of caution in its use is that it can grow very large. I have seen it growing wild in the mountains, where it tumbles among the rocks . Its fruit is very bitter and has had some medicinal uses as an astringent and mouth wash, and was even used as food by Northwest Indian tribes, although it must have been starvation fare. The roots were used to produce a yellow dye.