Sun or shade. Evergreen, with blue or green leaves bearing sharp points. Agarita’s holly-like leaves are a signature of south-central Texas: prickly and rugged. Stiff stems form a mounding shrub up to 5′ in height. Agarita grows in thickets, canyons and woodlands. Though it’s frequently clear-cut during residential construction, it has been re-planted and showcased in watersaver landscapes, paired with yucca and mountain laurel to lend instant Hill Country flavor. Yellow flowers appear briefly in early spring, followed by sweet-sour reddish berries. Growing throughout the Southwest, agarita was considered to possess antiseptic qualities by Native Americans. Root shavings yielded yellow dye for animal hides; later, the berries were used for jelly and wine. Though it can be hard to locate at big box stores, agarita can generally be obtained from nurseries specializing in native plants.

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