Oregon Grape: Some Very Fine Mahonias

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image courtesy Michael Moore and SWSBM

Also, the SWSBM site sbove is comprehensive and a great, free online resource.

Michael Moore’s books are true gems! I just purchased his book:
Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West.

Algerita, is the desert and canyon species of Mahonia a.k.a Oregon Grape.

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New to the world

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Flower buds emerging above in the Desert Mahonia species.

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The bright green is the new leaf growth and flower buds.

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Some good basic Info for Methods and Use for Oregon Grape… Mahonia, Algerita.

Summation/Excerpt:

Moore suggests to: gather root and stem bark from midsummer to winter.
Split the tough dense roots, not main stem root, with hatchet when fresh.
Tincture fresh chopped roots or with adequate grinder, may break blades, grind dry chopped roots.
For dry roots tincture 1:5 ratio, of dry herb weight to ounces alcohol.
Use 50% alcohol.
Fresh tincture, use 1:2 ratio, 95% ethanol

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The herb is water soluble, cold infusion for tea works best,
Use 2-4 ounce dose.
Tincture, fresh or dry use 5-10 drops as a bitter, 15-30 drops
as a liver or alterative medicine.

Algerita has 3 main functions: a bitter tonic for digestion, a stimulant for liver protein metabolism, antimicrobial for intestinal tract and for skin.

Berberine is a primary constituent.

Algerita and Oregon Grape ….
a.k.a Mahonia can all be used interchangeably. Please note species described below.

(Oregon Grape not to be confused with the Holly tree.)

All Oregon Grape is classified as Mahonias in this post.

Some botanists and herbalists classify these plants/shrubs as Berberis.

There is some debate, although Mahonia is also a current classification.

There are more species than this.
I am keeping this regionally to north central New Mexico, mountains, desert and canyon species that I have found.

Research your local variety!
Consider growing some or landscaping with it.

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The more commonly described Oregon Grape:

Mahonia spp
Mahonia aquifolium
Mahonia repens

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and the Algerita species of Oregon Grape:

Mahonia fremontii
Mahonia haematocarpa
Mahonia trifoliolata

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Family: Berberidaceae

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Mahonia in the Sandias

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I also saw a lot of wild geranium growing.

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And Verbena

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More purple than my camera captured

And, even some horehound growing around an abandoned homestead.

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And, a week later the Mahonias in the Sandias are going from flower to seed, eventually to fruit as berries.

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When i’m not looking for Mahonias, I love to hike in the mountains! I just found some Mahonia in the Sandia mountains a few days later. I was really hoping to find some in a mountainscape and, lucky me, I did.
And, in Santa Fe, NM, I spotted some Oregon Grape, growing near a river, at the base of the Sangre de Cristos.

Some sights from the top of the Sandia mountains. I admire its silhouette in the Southwest skies around me.

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I presently live in view of many mountains, in the desert foothills of the Ortiz range.

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I can see the Sangre de Cristos, Jemez mountains, Ortiz
mountains and Sandias, in a 360°circumference.

This view encompasses the desert plateau where i live.

This plateau is majestic, harsh, spectacular. Quieting, hot, teeming with life against all odds.

Windy now in spring.

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A small daisy grows surrounded by cactus.

Less than a quarter mile away from me in the desert foothills, down and through an arroyo, are many Algerita species of Mahonia.

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Above, they are beginning to bud, this first week of April.

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They are often full, tall shrubs/trees. Sometimes, some of the branches are bare or full with leaves on the dry hillsides and arroyos.

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When the flowers bloom and mature into berries, I look forward to making Oregon Grape Jam…
or as I will affectionately call it~
Desert Mahonia Jelly ☺

gather berries for jam or jelly

Harvest from large stands and wildlife depend on the berries too!🐻

I’ve admired the Algerita/Desert Mahonia for many years, and look forward to making a small batch of jelly!

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In Santa Fe a more typical Oregon Grape shrub grows. Either Mahonia aquifolium or M. repens… I am not sure. The Mahonia repens turns all red in the fall like its Spanish name: Yerba de Sangre.
So, in the fall when I go back to visit these regal shrubs, i will have more of a clue.

And, this week, I have seen this Oregon grape, growing wild, flowering along rivers, planted near galleries…

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All bursting and emerging with gorgeous yellow flower buds and blooms.

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I made my very first flower essence using the Mahonia flowers…

The snowmelt was rushing in the river. I made a short nature video while my essence was being prepared. I even had a honeybee sip on the gorgeous nectar of the blooms, while they floated in a glass bowl filled with spring water.

snowmelt river flows and Mahonia flower essence

Now visiting some Mahonias I am fond of, In mid April, Mahonias in snow…

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The Algerita species, also known as, Desert Holly Mahonia, have not started to bloom on the dry hillsides and arroyos.

They will bloom by mid spring. What a beautiful arroyo hike that will be!

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Desert Mahonia leaves can vary in size.

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According to Mountain Rose Herbs, here are some Precautionary Guidelines for use:

“Adults should limit use of Oregon grape root or any other herb containing berberine (barberry, coptis, or goldenseal) to seven consecutive days at a time, waiting at least a week before using the herb again. This gives the natural, helpful bacteria of the intestine a chance to recover. Taking vitamin B6 supplements can give infectious bacteria resistance to the antibacterial toxins in the herb.

Do not take Oregon grape root if you are taking antibiotics for diarrhea.

The herb is not a problem for nursing mothers unless the baby has jaundice, however it should not be used while pregnant.”

how to harvest stem bark rather than rhizomes

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The Leaves also make useful salves for Psoriasis, and inflamed conditions of skin.

Check out this blog.
Respectful harvesting and great info:

radicalbotany

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Oregon Grape/Mahonia has many uses including against Staph infections.
See this comprehensive site for more info.

Methow Valley Herbs

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Guide to flower essence properties including Mahonia:

different flower essence properties

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Henriette’s Herbal Comprehensive Study

The above site illustrates Oregon Grape/Mahonia’s use in resolving Toxic heat and dampness, including its benefit on the liver.

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Algerita root exposed in an arroyo!

this root is quite the healer, as are you!

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Months later with the very tart, but tasty, green apple tasting… juicy mahonia berries!

Sources include posted websites and this source:

Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West.by Michael Moore, Museum of New Mexico Press, 1989.

Some very fine Mahonias

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Oregon Grape grapes…

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A mountain spring, glorious!

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About wildlettucegal

certified plant lover 😀

Posted on April 11, 2015, in Forage, Forage and Wildcraft, healing herbs, healing salves, Herbal apothecary, Herbal Preparations, Herbal Tinctures, New Mexico Wildcrafting, southwest, wild edibles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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