Mahonia japonica is an evergreen shrub which typically matures over time to 7' tall and to 7-10' wide. Although native to China (not Japan), it has been extensively cultivated in Japan and is often commonly called Japanese mahonia. Pinnate-compound, leathery, holly-like leaves (to 18" long) grow in horizontal tiers. Each leaf has 7-19 narrow, stiff, spiny-toothed, oblong to lance-shaped, dark green leaflets (to 4" long). Fragrant yellow flowers in loose, spreading to pendant racemes (each to 4-8” long) bloom in late winter to early spring (March-April). Flowers are followed by ornamentally-attractive grape-like bunches of small waxy fruits which mature to blue-black in late spring to early summer. Fruits are attractive to birds. Genus name honors Bernard M'Mahon (1775-1816), American horticulturist and author of The American Gardener's Calendar (1806).Mahoniais closely related to Berberis. Some authorities have now lumped many of the plants in the genus Mahonia into the genus Berberis (see GRIN). Many other authorities continue to list Mahonia separately. In the 2009 revision of Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Michael Dirr declined to eliminate Mahonia as a genus by simply stating "I refuse to go there."