As a member of the Barberry family, this shrub was initially known as Berberis aquifolium, before Thomas Nuttall honored Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon by renaming the genus. McMahon was the first nurseryman to successfully grow Oregon Grape-Holly from seeds brought back by Lewis and Clark.
The great plant explorer, David Douglas, found this plant and a related species, Mahonia repens, during his travels through the Pacific Northwest between 1825 and 1827. He introduced it on a large scale and it was widely cultivated by 1828. This shrub is not attractive to deer.
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