Mahonia gracilis – Mexican Barberry

One of the biggest challenges at the Homegrown Revolution compound has been finding useful plants that will grow in our shady backyard. Not having to provide supplemental irrigation would be another definite plus. Unfortunately very few plants fit those stringent requirements.

We came across some seeds recently for a plant called Mahonia gracilis or Mexican Barberry, but there’s very little information about this medium sized shrub, native to Mexico (or China depending on which source you believe). The Plants for a Future database report states that the plant grows in dry ravines of pine forests and produces an edible berry. But as usual most other sources don’t comment on the edibility of the fruit.

To add to the paucity of information and general confusion, some botanists argue that the family name is incorrect and that it should be called Berberis gracilis. Some sources place it on a deep shade list, while others say it needs dappled sun.

We’ll throw it open to all the Homegrown Revolutionaries out there. Do any of you have experience with this plant?

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  1. I’ve grown Mahonia gracilis for more than 10 years in Dallas Texas. The late Lynn Lowery a plant hunter collected seed for it near Monterry Mexico.

    I’ve grown it in light shade to full sun without any problems. It can take somewhat dry conditions without any problems once established. It is blooming right now which is early March.

    Fabulous evergreen plant. Jim, Dallas

  2. Don’t know about Mexican barberry specifically, but some species are ferociously invasive… plant responsibly.

  3. Looking for any new comments about this plant and discovered that I had left this comment a few years earlier. Don’t know what Mr. Anonymous was alluding to plant wise in the genus…he should have said other than to make a blanket statement. It is late January here in Dallas and we had a three day period of very cold..down to 13degrees and below freezing for about the whole period. Looking at the plants, they look unhurt. Hardly invasive…they are fabulous evergreen plants.

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