Thursday, December 8, 2011

Take a Look at Native Holly

Image in the public domain, via Vintage Catnip 


A vintage postcard with a sprig of holly says Christmas, words or not, doesn't it?  Usually the holly represented at Christmas is English holly (Ilex aquifolium).  Our landscapes are full of exotic hollies from around the world, particularly Asia.  I was pleased to find out, though, that we have a native American holly that looks perfectly holiday-worthy: Ilex opaca.   

American Holly Ilex opaca Berries 3008px
Ilex opaca
By Photo (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) (Own Picture.) [GFDL 1.2 (www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


There are many other beautiful native hollies as well; surely one or more - or one more! - needs a spot in your garden.  Local wildlife will be appreciative, and you can use the leaves (of evergreen types) and berries for fall and winter decorations and arrangements.  

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Cindy at Garden By the Sound describes the growth habits and appearance of Ilex opaca, and gives some history of holly in her post, Christmas Holly, Our American Version.

Ellen Sousa highlights beautiful, deciduous winterberry hollies in her post, A Very Berry Time of Year, at Native Plant Wildlife Garden.

Winter Soltstice and Hollies is the Florida Native Plant Society's excellent list and descriptions of many native hollies, most of which will grow in the warmer parts of the Carolinas.  Included is legend and lore, some identification, and how-to-grow tips.

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Enjoy the season!