Herb: Texas Mahonia


Latin name: Mahonia swaseyi


Synonyms: Berberis swaseyi


Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)



Medicinal use of Texas Mahonia:

Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Mahonia species, has marked antibacterial effects and is used as a bitter tonic. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity. The root and root bark are best harvested in the autumn.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Besides rocky streams in Texas. Endemic to the Edwards Plateau in Texas, where it grows on limestone ridges and canyons at elevations of 150-600 metres.

Edible parts of Texas Mahonia:

Fruit - raw but more usually cooked in preserves. Pleasantly acid, it can also be dried and used as raisins. Unfortunately, there is relatively little flesh and a lot of seeds. The fruit, which can be dry or juicy, is up to 15mm in diameter. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in the spring. "Green" seed (harvested when the embryo has fully developed but before the seed case has dried) should be sown as soon as it is harvested and germinates within 6 weeks. Stored seed should be sown as soon as possible in late winter or spring. 3 weeks cold stratification will improve its germination, which should take place in 3 - 6 months at 10C. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer and consider giving them some protection from the cold for their next winter. Division of suckers in spring. Whilst they can be placed direct into their permanent positions, better results are achieved if they are potted up and placed in a frame until established. Leaf cuttings in the autumn.

Cultivation of Texas Mahonia:

Besides rocky streams in Texas. Endemic to the Edwards Plateau in Texas, where it grows on limestone ridges and canyons at elevations of 150-600 metres.

Known hazards of Mahonia swaseyi:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.