Mahonia are handsome evergreen shrubs with holly-like leaflets arranged in some varieties in long, compound leaves that are very distinctive and decorative. All will grow in any reasonably good, well-drained soil and in sun or shade, but the winter-flowering kinds should be given a fairly sheltered position, and a few kinds are distinctively tender. Mahonia aquifolium, with clusters of yellow flowers in March—April, followed by grape-purple berries, is one of the easiest and hardiest, thriving in sun or shade, usually 3 or 4 ft. high and spreading slowly by suckers.
M. japonica and M. Charity make stiff, erect stems, can reach 8 to 10 ft., and have big leaves and yellow flowers in slender spikes arranged like the spokes of a wheel in the first named, clustered into a sheaf in Charity. The flowers of M. japonica are also very sweetly scented. Both these handsome shrubs need a warm, sheltered but not necessarily sunny position. Neither is improved by pruning, but M. aquifolium can be cut back after flowering or trimmed lightly in summer and is sometimes used as a low hedge.


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