Oregon State Flower
The Oregon grape blossom was designated the official Oregon State Flower in 1899. The low-growing evergreen is native to much of the Pacific Northwest. It thrives in the mountains and along water bodies like rivers and streams. Oregon grape foliage is waxy green throughout the year and resembles holly. In early summer, the plant bears tiny yellow flowers. “Grape” refers to the shrub’s edible, bluish-purple berries — a favorite with wild birds. The berries grow in grape-like clusters and ripen in the fall.
Oregon grape was encountered along the Columbia River during the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis referred to the plant as “mountain holley” in a journal entry dated February 12, 1806. Two months later, the expedition traveled through an area in Hood River County now known as Cascade Locks. Meriwether Lewis collected two species of Oregon grape, but nearly lost them due to a series of unfortunate events. First, natives ridiculed and threw stones at Lewis’ men. Next, thieves attempted to steal tools and other items from their camp. Finally, one of the expedition canoes was lost when the explorers encountered violent rapids on the river. In spite of these setbacks, eleven plant specimens were saved — including the Oregon grape!
Oregon Grape Facts
Common Name: Oregon Grape
Scientific Name: Mahonia aquifolium
Year Adopted: 1899
Peak Bloom: June
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Oregon Grape photograph by Nadispencer
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