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Useful Temperate Plants

Mahonia bealei

(Fortune) Carrière

Berberidaceae


This species is scarcely distinct from Mahonia japonica[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
], differing mainly in its broader leaflets which are placed closer together on the stem and its erect flower racemes[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
]. It is often treated as a subspecies of Mahonia japonica, despite the fact that Mahonia bealei is found in the wild whilst Mahonia japonica is a cultigen and not a wild plant[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Plants of the two species are often confused in cultivation[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. Many seedlings that have been raised from cultivated plants are hybrids between the two species[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
The genus Mahonia is not universally accepted. Many botanists prefer to treat it as part of Berberis - as per the Flora of N. America[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. However, although they are very closely related (and there are some intergeneric hybrids), from the point of view of the gardener they are quite distinct genera. We are therefore following the treatment in the Flora of China[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
] which treats them as distinct. There is, however, at least one major revision (of the Chinese genera) currently (2016) in preparation and we will review the position of Mahonia once we have seen that revision[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Berberis bealei Fortune

Mahonia japonica bealei (Fortune) Fedde

Common Name:

No Image.

General Information

Mahonia bealei is an evergreen shrub or a small tree, usually growing 0.5 - 4 metres tall but occasionally reaching 8 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. An important medicinal herb in China, where it is often cultivated and is also sold in local markets. It is often grown as an ornamental in gardens..

Known Hazards

All parts of the plant contain the alkaloid berberine - this is most concentrated in the roots, stems and inner bark, and least concentrated in the fruits. In small quantities berberine has a range of effective medicinal applications but, in excess, can cause vomiting, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lethargy, and other ill-effects.
The fruit of most, if not all, members of this genus are more or less edible and can be eaten in quantity since the levels of berberine in the fruit are very low.

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - southern and eastern China

Habitat

Forests, forest margins, weedy slopes, streamsides, roadsides and thickets; at elevations from 500 - 2,000 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height2.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Mahonia bealei is very winter hardy, when fully dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to about -20°c[
184
Title
Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1989
ISBN
0-330-30258-2
Description
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1,900 species and cultivars.
], though the young growth in spring is much more sensitive and can be damaged by temperatures around 0°c.
Thrives in any good garden soil[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Succeeds under quite heavy tree cover[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
], often thriving in dense shade[
182
Title
Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7195-5043-2
Description
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
]. Prefers a semi-shaded woodland position in a damp, slightly acid to neutral humus-rich soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The flowers are sweetly scented[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
].
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Some Berberis/Mahonia species (especially Berberis vulgaris) harbour the black stem-rust fungus (Puccinia graminis Persoon). This is a major disease of wheat and barley crops and can spread from infected barberries to the grain crop. The sale or transport of susceptible or untested species of Berberis is illegal in the United States and Canada[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. This species is resistant to infection by the fungus[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked. A pleasant acid flavour, it is nice when added to muesli or porridge[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Unfortunately, there is relatively little flesh and a lot of seeds[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The fruit is about 10mm long and 6mm wide[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
], it ripens in April/May and if the plant is in a sheltered position the crops can be fairly heavy[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

Mahonia bealei is an important and commonly used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used interchangeably with Mahonia fortunei. The stem and roots are said to have the properties of "clearing heat and dry dampness, purge fire and remove toxins" and have been used for the treatment of conditions such as dampness-heat diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice, red urine, red painful swelling eyes, toothache caused by stomach fire, sore and deep-rooted boils, swelling and abscesses[
1153
Title
The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and
Publication
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, September 2015 pp 668-683
Author
Jian-Ming He, Qing Mu
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.013
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
0378-8741
Description
A review of the medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in China.
].
A decoction of the root and stems is antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, depurative and febrifuge[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. A decoction is used in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis, recurring fever and cough in rundown body systems, rheumatoid arthritis, backache, weak knees, dysentery and enteritis[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
].
The decoction is applied as a wash to treat eczema and dermatitis[
1153
Title
The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and
Publication
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, September 2015 pp 668-683
Author
Jian-Ming He, Qing Mu
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.013
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
0378-8741
Description
A review of the medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in China.
]. Combined with tea oil, it is used as a coating on burns[
1153
Title
The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and
Publication
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, September 2015 pp 668-683
Author
Jian-Ming He, Qing Mu
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.013
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
0378-8741
Description
A review of the medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in China.
].
The root and root bark are best harvested in the autumn[
213
Title
Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
Publication
 
Author
Weiner. M. A.
Publisher
Ballantine Books
Year
1980
ISBN
0-449-90589-6
Description
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
].

The leaf is febrifuge and tonic[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of insomnia, dizziness and tinnitus[
1153
Title
The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and
Publication
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, September 2015 pp 668-683
Author
Jian-Ming He, Qing Mu
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.013
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
0378-8741
Description
A review of the medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in China.
].


Mahonia species have a long history of medicinal usage, with several members of the genus being commonly used in traditional medicine and also in modern herbalism. They are employed in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and have, in particular, been demonstrated to exert good efficacy in the clinical treatment of dysentery, internal and external haemorrhage, acne vulgaris and chronic pharyngitis amongst other diseases. Phytochemical research into this genus has resulted in the identification of more than 150 chemical constituents, amongst which alkaloids are predominant. The isolated compounds and crude extracts have been shown to exhibit a wide spectrum of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological effects, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antimutagenic and analgesic properties[
1153
Title
The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and
Publication
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, September 2015 pp 668-683
Author
Jian-Ming He, Qing Mu
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.013
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
0378-8741
Description
A review of the medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in China.
]
Berberine, an alkaloid that is universally present in the rhizomes and stems of Mahonia species, has been shown to have a marked antibacterial effect[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
] and is also used as a bitter tonic[
213
Title
Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
Publication
 
Author
Weiner. M. A.
Publisher
Ballantine Books
Year
1980
ISBN
0-449-90589-6
Description
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
]. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it can be used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
Berberine has also shown antitumour activity[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
The plant should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. It usually germinates in the spring[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. '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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. 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 10°c. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer.
Division of suckers in spring[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. 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[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
Leaf cuttings in the autumn.

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