I have always admired the mahonia in my woodland garden. Leatherleaf mahonia grows five to ten feet tall. In late winter it produces sweet smelling yellow flowers, followed by bluish berries which hang in clusters similar to grapes and which are attractive to birds. The architectural foliage is very spiky and thus deer resistant. It is rarely bothered by pests or disease. It grows well in woodland conditions. Low maintenaince. My kind of plant!
Honestly, I thought it was native. But I have discovered it ain't so. While Mahonia aquifolium, or Oregon grape holly, is an American native that grows in the western part of our country, Mahonia bealei, or leatherleaf mahonia, is a Chinese import that has naturalized throughout the southeastern states and is now considered an invasive. In fact, it is listed as prohibited in my state of Alabama.
Mahonia does self seed, but I can easily pull up the small ones by hand. Compared to Boston ivy, a woodland monster I battle constantly, my mahonias are well behaved wimps. I think it is beautiful. I like the way it complements the nandina domestica that also grows in my woodlands, another plant considered an invasive.
So what am I to do? It is unlikely that some government agency will show up in hazmat suits, to rip up my garden while I'm hauled off to jail. But should I take them out myself? And what native plant would replace them?
I am taking a hard look at my woodland garden. It is a difficult decision.
Follow-up note: See My Decision