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Green Medicine > Medicinal Plants > Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Photo of Oregon Grape
Photo copyright 2000
(Mahonia aquifolium)

This plant gets its common name from the fact that its blue berries somewhat resemble clusters of grapes, and the fact that it is native to the northwestern states and adjacent parts of Canada. This shrub is popular as an ornamental, and is very adaptable in terms of where it will grow. The root of mahonia is traditionally used for a variety of skin conditions, inflammations, and infections.

Today, as more people become concerned with the status of wild goldenseal, many consumers and natural product companies are turning to Oregon grape as an alternative, since it has many of the same properties and, in processed form, looks similar. Concern has been expressed that the harvesting practices once visited upon goldenseal might be repeated on Oregon grape.

Although all parts of Oregon grape root are medicinal, the root bark is sometimes harvested exclusively, and the rest of the plant is discarded. It is important to be aware that, even with plants that are not endangered or extraordinarily sensitive, ethical wildcrafting practices should always be observed.

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Last Updated: 4/4/02