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Tree Campus: Japanese Mahonia

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Japanese Mahonia

Mahonia japonica (BERBERIDACEAE)






Mahonia japnoica is one of the food plants for the brown-eared bulbul (Hypsypetes amaurotis). Passage through the gut of the bird cleans seeds of the fruit and assists in their germination after defecation. [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Mahonia japonica is a popular garden shrub with a scent similar to Lily-of-the-Valley (Convalaria majalis)" [2]. The scent is "described in perfumery terms as floral, indolic and rosy." [3]

"Plants of the genus Mahonia Nuttall (Berberidaceae) have a long history of medical use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment of a wide range of health disorders, such as tuberculosis, periodontitis, dysentery, pharyngolaryngitis, eczema, and wounds. In the theory of TCM, most Mahonia species exert the effects of relieving internal heat, eliminating dampness, removing toxins, suppressing pain, promoting blood circulation, inhibiting cough and alleviating inflammation." [4]



"A number of species of Mahonia have been extensively studied for their pharmacologically active components: the roots of M. aquifoliurn contain alkaloids with relaxant, antioxidant and antifungal properties. Mahonia are also grown for their floral fragrance; however, quantitative analysis of this is limited. The predominance of benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, (Z)- and (E)-Pocimene, linalool, citronellol and indole in the headspace was noted, with indole having the greatest overall impact on the scent due to its low odor perception threshold. The benzyl alcohol and citronellol contribute rosy and muguet notes to the overall fragrance." [3]



[1] Fukui, A. W. (1995). The role of the brown‐eared bulbul Hypsypetes amaurotis as a seed dispersal agent. Population Ecology37(2), 211-218.

[2] Picone, J. M., MacTavish, H. S., & Clery, R. A. (2002). Emission of floral volatiles from Mahonia japonica (Berberidaceae). Phytochemistry60(6), 611-617.

[3] MacTavish, H. S., Picone, J. M., & Clery, R. A. (2003). Identification of volatiles in headspace emitted from Mahonia japonica flowers. Journal of Essential Oil Research15(4), 231-233.

[4] He, J. M., & Mu, Q. (2015). The medicinal uses of the genus Mahonia in traditional Chinese medicine: An ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and pharmacological review. Journal of ethnopharmacology175, 668-683.

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