|photo by brewbooks|
Even during the winter, Oregon grape displays its shiny, dark green leaflets. Their shape gives the plant its alternative common name, Oregon holly.
In the late summer or fall, some of those leaflets blush a pretty red; in spring, fragrant clusters of bright yellow flowers show up, which will evolve into the bluish-purple berries.
And yup, the berries are edible, but tart. Some native people ate them, often mixing them with sweeter berries. Many tribes boiled the roots for a yellow pigment used to dye beargrass for basket-making. The boiled roots were also used to treat coughs, stomach upset, or venereal disease. Today, herbalist still use the plant to help fight infections and strengthen the immune system.
Have you ever tried the berries? Or made them into jelly?