Magonia is a barren relative of barberry
Recently, 30 years have passed since I became a summer resident. I recalled some stages of my activity during this period and decided that my experience could be useful to readers of Botanychka. I will share it a little. I bought a pimped hut and a garden plot in a typical Russian village, located on the banks of a huge Volga reservoir in the Tver province, in 1984. Frankly speaking, the impression of the acquisition was bleak: everything looked very primitive and neglected - both the buildings and the garden itself. But my wife, relatives and friends were young, full of optimism, enthusiasm and bright creative plans. And I had to "create" almost from scratch.
Despite the many priority construction works, it was decided first of all to buy seedlings for the garden, because the site was empty: no tree, no flower. The previous owners, except for potatoes and cucumbers, did not seem to plant anything.
With the help of friends, I managed to get into one of the Moscow nurseries, apparently working on the principle of Soviet-era distributors for VIPs. What was not there! We bought two dozen seedlings of elite apple trees, eight honeysuckle bushes. And then they relied on the tastes of the staff. They advised us those seedlings that Muscovites summer residents were then in fashion: seedlings of lemongrass, quince, felt cherry, barberry, actinidia.
I must say right away that many of the proposed berry bushes were purchased in vain. So, the actinidia bushes immediately collected all the cats and dogs from the entire village, apparently because of some substance contained in them, from which these animals "bastards", wallowing upside down on the ground and convulsively wriggling at the same time. Felt cherries a few years fruiting several berries, and then dried up (there were 8 bushes).
Barberry began to grow well (also 8 bushes). The leaves on the bushes were of different colors, looked very decorative, but on the site they took up a lot of space, although they were planted near the hedge along the edges of the site. The wife had the patience to collect the berries of barberry only for two seasons, because she was very annoyed by the thorns. I had to dig out already developed, beautiful and powerful bushes, load them into a car trailer and take them to friends who have a huge personal plot. The sight during transportation looked excellent - a whole decorative garden on wheels.
One bush of lemongrass has remained to grow on the site until now, but it will give birth poorly. The wife collects about a glass of berries and makes them into a tincture of vodka. The drink is wonderful, just not enough. The satisfaction that remains of the VIP nursery is the variety of elite apple varieties (they still delight us with their abundant fruiting, even in their old age) and the shockingly low price of all purchases (essentially a whole garden) - 16 rubles 30 kopecks. What will I plant now in the garden instead of shrubs that have not “taken root” in me? My choice fell on mahonia.
Description of Magonia
This is a relative of barberry. Species of this berry evergreen shrub from the family of barberry (Berberaceae) are common on many continents, among them there are winter-hardy North American that can grow with us. Its name was given in honor of the American gardener Bernard Mack Magon, who drew attention to this plant and first described it in 1806. Unlike barberry, the shoots of mahonia are devoid of thorns. Most often, we have magonia holly. It is an evergreen shrub up to 1 m high.
Young shoots are pinkish-gray, then brownish-gray. The leaves are leathery, shiny on top, dark green, dull on the bottom, greenish (in youth they are reddish). Especially beautiful are the leaves in winter - red-bronze. Yellow inflorescences are located at the ends of the shoots. Fruits - oblong berries up to 1 cm long, dark lilac with a bluish bloom, red juice, sour, weighing 0.1-0.5 g. Collect berries with brushes - which is faster and more convenient, or tearing them away from the stalks, if the fruits immediately will go to recycling.
Useful properties of mahonia
The productivity of the bush of mahonia depends on the pollination conditions. If cross-pollination was successful, then the plant can be literally strewn with fruits. Given their small mass, up to 2.5 kg of berries can be obtained from an adult plant.
The fruits are quite valuable in nutritional terms. They contain sugars, organic acids, tannins, P-active and pectin elements, as well as ascorbic acid in large quantities. Fruits can be stored fresh for a long time if they are sprinkled with sugar, but they rarely stale, because gardeners gladly make wonderful juices, compotes, and wines from them.
The latter is very important for me, because I like to make homemade wines from berries, including grapes. I like to taste my wines and treat them to friends. Fruits are also added as a blend in jam, jelly and mashed potatoes.
The roots of magnesium are used in medicine due to the high content of berberine in them - an active substance with an antibacterial effect. New studies show the ability of this substance to block the development of tumors. There is information about the inedibility or even toxicity of the fruits of mahonia. But this is not so. Yes, the fruits of both barberry and mahonia contain alkaloids, which are especially abundant in the seeds and bark of plants.
These alkaloids are used in medicine, as they have choleretic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects. But there are few of them in the pulp of fruits, they are even useful from a preventive point of view, although for the sake of caution, these fruits are not recommended for pregnant women. As a substitute for barberry berries, they are placed in pilaf.
Propagation of mahonia
Propagate mahonia seeds, root offspring, layering, green and lignified cuttings. The method of propagation by sowing seeds is the simplest: they are sown immediately after harvesting in the fall, long before the soil freezes (of course, seeds from harvested mature fruits should be washed from the pulp).
It is possible to plant magonium seeds in the spring, however, in this case preliminary stratification in wet sand or sawdust is required (within 3 to 4 months at a temperature of 0-5 degrees). It is recommended to make layering in spring, so that during the summer they will form roots, and in autumn young plants will be ready for transplanting to a permanent place.
Green and lignified cuttings of mahogany root well enough, they are usually cut with 4 to 6 buds. It is better to do this in early spring, even before the swelling of the kidneys, but it is possible in the fall.
Magonia requires little attention. Even with pruning, you can not be wiser: it is enough to periodically remove diseased, broken or weak branches. To pests and diseases, the plant is stable, quite frost-resistant, quite confidently wintering and without shelter. However, if the winter is snowy, it is better to play it safe and cover the plants with dry leaves, sawdust, spruce spruce branches or sprinkle with snow (especially in the first year of cultivation).
Many amateur enthusiasts still prefer to propagate magonia vegetatively by rooting green or lignified cuttings. In early spring, they cut lignified cuttings, remove leaves from them and put them in a jar of water, which they keep outdoors in the shade. A cut of magonia should be immersed in water almost completely, with the exception of 2-3 upper kidneys. After a two-month exposure, roots form on the cuttings.
When they reach a length of 5-7 cm, cuttings with roots are planted in the ground, covered with a glass jar or other transparent plastic container. About ten days after planting, you can begin to harden them, gradually opening containers, thereby providing fresh air access to young plants. Magonia loves moist, humus-rich loamy soils, but can grow on poor and dry soils. In this case, it grows worse. In addition, the richer and looser the soil, the higher the shoot-forming ability of mahonia, and this is very important for obtaining decent yields.
Breeders recommend two varieties of mahonia for cultivation - Bluemun and Bluklaud, because they have larger fruits. But this does not mean that experienced gardeners are barred from searching for the most interesting forms of mahonia. In addition to the holly magonia in gardening and fruit growing, a species close to it can be used - creeping magonia, almost unknown in culture and an even lower shrub, up to 0.5 m tall.
He is also from North America. Outwardly, it differs little from the previous species, but is less effective than submarine mahonia. But this species is more winter-hardy. Even near Arkhangelsk it winters without shelter, blooms and bears fruit. It is advisable to use creeping magonia as a decorative groundcover throughout the year, for example, on alpine hills and especially in the harsh conditions of the northern regions. Her shoots take root easily.
P.S .: As I mentioned, I consider the most effective use of berries grown on my site is to make homemade wine from them. What could be nicer than treating your loved ones, relatives and friends with your wine! I inform you that today I like to make wines from the following berries and fruits: apples, red currants, black currants, gooseberries, raspberries and viburnum. Recently began to make wine from grapes. I regret that I started growing it late.
My friends, agricultural technology for growing grapes must be mastered: it bears fruit and reproduces well. Thanks to my son, who mastered the pruning of grapes, after which the grapes began to give decent harvests. Wine from gooseberries ferments well, not without reason gooseberries are called Siberian grapes. Magonia in the United States is called Oregon grapes, apparently also for a reason. It remains only to start growing it and testing it in home winemaking.