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Agarita, Mahonia trifoliolata

A large bush, usually growing from 3-6 feet, gray/green spiky leaves, fragrant yellow blossoms, with the fragrance of honey, and delectable red berries, is one of Central Texas’ native treasures.  Agarita grows best in the sun and part-shade, in rocky, dry soil with very little care, other than what nature provides. This native bush grows abundantly in the Edwards Plateau and has numerous health and culinary benefits.

For years Texans have been preparing delicious Agarita berry jam from the ripened berries of early spring.  The berries can be difficult to harvest as the plant has a natural self-protective leaf on its branches.  However, you can improvise by using umbrellas spread upside down under the bush.

Then gently hit the branches until the very ripe berries fall.  Please see my article on making Agarita jam: and be patient until next spring when those yummy berries appear once again.

In the meantime, you can trim your Agarita bush and harvest the branches to prepare a healthy and quite tasty decoction (tea). Gently simmer the branches for at least ½ - 1 hour to release the chemical constituents of the plant.  Although the root contains a more concentrated array of constituents, the branches have medicinal value as well, and you don’t have to uproot the entire plant to receive its benefits. If you do uproot the plant it is difficult to replant Agarita as it does not like to be transplanted.

agarita branches
I like to drink Agarita tea to assist with digestion, chronic constipation, and as a blood tonic. The western cowboys also drank a root tea for a kindly hangover cure.  AKA Algertia, and Agarito, the powerful plant can also be used for chronic infections, a preventative for kidney stones and as a liver cleanser. 
High in Berberine, this incredible herb can be used as other Mahonias in treating various digestive issues, an anti-viral effect and as one of nature’s antibiotics.

Purchase a bag of Agarita Branch Tea made from freshly harvested branches and give it a try.   You will be delighted.     

     2.5 oz $25.95   Agarita Branch Tea