Welcome to another Thursday and post number 650! The first week of daylight savings time has me dragging. I tend to stay up too late and then really miss that elusive hour in the morning. The days seem too short and the night seems too long. Or is just ME? I may be moving slow, but I'm still stitching away and just finished another block for the State Flower Quilt Project.
This is a strange little species with flowers and "grapes". But they don't occur at the same time---so the original motif was grape clusters alone. Well. Since this is a state *flower* quilt, I wanted the little buttercup-like flowers too. So I re-did the whole thing and both are represented now. Despite its name, this is not the type of grape found growing in vineyards. Nor is it a grape hyacinth, which people sometimes mistakenly think is the state flower. The Oregon-Grape (Berberis/Mahonia aquifolium), often called, Mahonia, is most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, where it thrives alongside rivers and streams, and in mild mountain areas. The glossy leaves with their prickly edges bear a resemblance to holly. Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, made notes in his journal referring to it as "mountain holly".
It's a low growing, shrub-like evergreen that can reach a height of 3-4 feet and is ideally suited for landscaping because of its low-maintenance, resistance to summer drought, tolerance of poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. In early summer, round green buds blossom into bright yellow orb-shaped flowers that emit a spicy scent. Later they develop into the purple berry clusters, (that resemble grapes) and attract birds. Because of its extreme hardiness, Oregon-Grape is classified as an 'invasive exotic species' that may displace native vegetation in some areas outside its native range.
The Oregon-Grape was chosen by the state's Horticultural Society sometime in the 1890's, but was already valued by the Native Americans who used its berries and roots as medicinal herbs. Though bitter when raw, the berries become sweet when cooked and can be made into jelly and also fermented to make wine when mixed with another sweeter fruit, or Salal, another native plant commonly used even today. The plant is still used medicinally by herbalists to treat a variety of symptoms which include digestive disorders and for speeding the recovery of some diseases. It's been shown to have antibiotic and anticancer properties as well.
And...if that's not enough, it can be used as a dye. When boiled, the inner bark of the larger stems and root yield a yellow dye, while the berries produce purple---and combined they make brown! That's an amazing array of uses and attributes packed into one little shrub. It may not be the showiest, but there's no denying all its gifts to mankind. No wonder it was chosen.
COLORS: In case you need them are as follows (DMC six-strand floss); flowers #444, leaves #3349, grapes #156 & #158, grape stem #920, letters #645. I used 4 strands for all, with the exception of the flower name, where 3 strands was used. Stitches used: outline, backstitch, and padded satin-stitch for the grapes.
Block Size: For some reason the images are printing out larger than 4 x 4-inches. (This is approximate--they are meant to fit a 6.5" block). So re-size them if necessary. And mention your state if you want it added to the list. Now on we go to stitch up the lovely little "Lady Slipper" for Minnesota.