Mahonia Nervosa – th’o:lth’iyulhp (Upriver Halkomelem)
Medium small evergreen shrub with blue edible berries.
Other Uses: Y
Soil: Moist with good drainage. Soil should be acidic or at least neutral. Alkaline soils can be problematic.
Watering: Dry to fairly moist
Sun: Full sun to shade; partial shade ideal.
Usually found at: Open to closed forests at low elevation
Pollinators & wildlife: Butterflies, bees, birds
Ornamental: Used for its shiny leaves and because it resembles English holly.
Leaves: Clustered, long, alternate, turning reddish or purplish in winter, 9-19 leathery leaflets, shiny, oblong to egg-shaped, several spiny teeth
Flowers: Bright yellow, flower parts in 6s up to 20 cm long. Appears in April/May
Berries: Blue berries, 1 cm across, in elongated clusters, large seeds, edible
First Nations uses: Many First Nations ate the berries especially when mixed with a sweeter berry like Salal. The bark of the stems and roots was shredded to make a bright yellow dye, and the bark and berries were used for medicine for the liver and eyes. Some groups thought that the berries were a very strong antidote for shellfish poisoning.