Often found in shady or woodland plantings, it is valued for its striking foliage and flowers.The leathery leaves resemble holly and the stems and twigs have a thickened, corky appearance. The flowers, borne in dense clusters in late spring, are yellow, and are followed by spherical dark dusty blue berries, which give rise to the common name "Oregon grape."
This stout shrub is the state flower of Oregon. The small, dark-purple fruits, which are quite tart, are included in smaller quantities in the traditional diets of Pacific Northwest peoples, mixed with salal or another sweeter fruit. Today, they are sometimes used to make jelly, alone or mixed with salal.