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Plant Profile: Chinese holly grape

Chinese holly grape - Mahonia lomariifolia Botanical Name: Mahonia lomariifolia

Family: Berberidaceae

Type: Shrub

Size: 1.8m to 4m

This Chinese native is not so widely grown on our shores, which is a great shame as it is a low-maintenance, stunning plant, if you stay out of its way — it's leaves are fiercely spiky.

It's often referred to as the Chinese holly grape (due to its holly-like appearance and grape-like fruit) or the Burmese mahonia.

This narrow, tall plant bears long green leaves, which cluster near the stem ends. The thick, glossy leaves come in great contrast to the stunning blue berries that cover the plant in spring and the autumn/winter blossom of fragrant lemon-yellow flowers. The berries can even be made into a scrumptious jam.

Year-round it offers sweet fragrances.

Ideal Conditions:

The plant prefers partial shade and does best in moist soil, with good drainage.

It should be planted out of the way of strong winds, in a fairly sheltered position.

It's a great plant for growing in shady corners, in mixed hedges, or even as a potted indoor plant.


This plant is fairly hardy — surviving most frosts, but doesn't do so well in strong, chilling winds, particularly when young.

They don't often suffer from disease or pests.

It can be propagated from seed, or by rooting semi-hard tip cuttings taken in summer.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 2, 2004