Unfortunately, in our plots this plant from the Barberry family is relatively rare, but it is one of those that are useful in all respects. Mahonia holly (Mahonia aquifolia) - one of the few evergreen plants that are capable, albeit under a cover of snow, to survive in our Non-Black Earth Zone.
Firstly, this plant is very decorative. As soon as the snow begins to melt, a short shrub appears with leathery dark green leaves. By the end of May, the plant blooms with lush caps of yellow flowers, which by July-August turn into dull blue berries with dark red juice and 2-5 shiny red-brown seeds. So the plant decorates the site from the earliest spring until it leaves under the snow.
The homeland of this wonderful plant is North America. If you break off a twig, then a bright yellow wood at the break will appear. The Indians used the decoction of the plant to dye fabrics and leather goods yellow. By the way, you can try to dye the yarn yourself or a piece of silk or woolen fabric (they are dyed in a brighter color than cotton or linen). To do this, make a concentrated decoction from the bark of branches or planed branches, a proportion of approximately 50-100 g / l. Add a little acetic acid or citric acid for a better color extraction. After that, boil the raw material for 20-30 minutes, let it brew, strain and evaporate by half. Then dip the previously washed yarn or fabric into the solution. Heat in a water bath for an hour. Then rinse in clean water and dry. But for the first time, do not paint the thing, but first take a small piece and what is called "adapt" to the ancient dyeing technology.
Secondly, Mahonia in its homeland is a food plant, the fruits of which are added for color to compotes, jelly and wine. Currently, work is underway in this direction and forms with rather pleasant fruits and relatively high yields have already been created.
Thirdly, this plant has medicinal properties. In American medicine, it is used for diarrhea, dyspepsia, gout, rheumatism, kidney, liver and gallbladder diseases (as a choleretic). In addition, it quite effectively helps with skin diseases, in one way or another associated with metabolic disorders. The main active ingredients of Mahonia are alkaloids, the most studied of which is berberine (it is generally characteristic of the barberry family, for which it got its name). In Germany, the ointment "Psoriaten" is produced with the active ingredients of Mahonia, which is used for such a severe systemic disease as psoriasis.
At home use tincture from the dried bark of branches or apical shoots. To prepare the tincture, take 1 part of crushed bark and 10 parts of vodka or 40o alcohol, insist in a dark place for about a week and use 5-15 drops for the diseases listed above.
Dried flowers are used to treat gout (in the folk medicine of our country, barberry was used in this case). 1 teaspoon of flowers is poured with 1.5 cups of boiling water and insisted until cooled. Take 1/3 cup 3 times a day before meals.
But, as always with any plant, there are contraindications for use - first of all, cholelithiasis.
Growing... With all the listed useful properties, this plant is unpretentious and it will not be difficult to grow it on your site. Magonia does not pretend to have scarce solar sites. She can be content with partial shade. The main thing is that in winter the snow does not blow off it with the wind. Everything that is above the snow cover in the Moscow region, as a rule, freezes.Loose and fertile soils are preferable, nevertheless, in its homeland, it grows in the undergrowth, where there is a lot of leaf humus.
Breeds Mahonia seeds, shoots and cuttings. When sowing seeds in the ground, they must first be prostrated in the refrigerator for 2-4 months. Only single seeds germinate without stratification. This path is long, since Mahonia grows relatively slowly. It is much easier and more convenient to propagate it vegetatively. In the spring, shoots are separated from the bush. The roots on them are rather bad and therefore, when planting, it is better to powder them with Kornevin. And, of course, water as needed.
There is one more way of reproduction. When you prepare winter compositions before the New Year, put a few branches in jars on a cool and light windowsill. Just don't put everything in one container at once. Optimally, there is an individual vessel for each branch. After a couple of months, roots form on some. About half of the cuttings are rooted. In the spring, they can be planted immediately in a permanent place. As a rule, the roots develop powerful and the plants do not get sick after planting and immediately start growing.
Care after Mahonia the most common - weeding, in the spring feeding with organic or complex mineral fertilizers. In case of dry weather - weekly watering.
It looks great in the form of a border, group plantings against the backdrop of a lawn or in a shady corner of the garden.
And when the New Year is approaching and you want to create a holiday atmosphere in the house, you can use not only spruce and pine for New Year's compositions. In European countries, they love to use butcher's broom, but it grows in the south and in most cases is not available to us. From our evergreens, you can use thuja and ... holly mahonia. Its luscious greenery looks great with all kinds of Christmas tree tinsel.