Oregon Grape is an evergreen shrub related to the barberry. It is commonly employed as an alternative to Goldenseal, due in part to their similar berberine content.
Oregon grape is native to western North America and is particularly prominent in the Pacific Northwest as the name suggests. The Oregon grape is a bushy, flowering perennial with shiny, holly-like leaves. It is commonly found in mountainous regions and adapts easier to its environment than the closely related barberry.
The leaves of Oregon grape are dark green and prickly, turning orange and eventually brilliant red after a few years of aging. The plant reaches between two and six feet in height and produces small blackish-blue berries that resemble tiny grapes. These berries are edible but not palatable, possessing an intensely tart flavor that herbalist Michael Moore compares to sucking simultaneously on a Vitamin C tablet and aspirin.
Constituents of Note: Oregon grape root contains berberine, also found in barberry, coptis, and goldenseal. The herb also contains phytochemicals with similar activity, including columbamine, hydrastine, jatrorrhizine, oxyacanthine, and tetrahydroberberine, as well as tannins. It does not contain the range of nutrient vitamins and minerals found in barberry.