Friday, December 24, 2010

Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees

 Just in time for Christmas, the holly berries in My Florida Backyard are starting to turn red. Our holly is one of the few plants on the property that was here before we were - it's located on the west side of the house in front of a bedroom window. We feel reasonably sure it is a Burford Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii'), which is native to Asia. Fortunately, it's not considered invasive in Florida, so we were able to leave this 15-foot shrub in place without any guilt.

Florida has several really great native hollies, including Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) and Yaupon Holly, which has the superb Latin name Ilex vomitoria. Given the choice, we would have planted either of these natives instead of the non-native Burford, but beggars can't be choosers. Our holly berries are popular with mockingbirds in the neighborhood - several years ago a male became very territorial in this bush and even began attacking his own reflection in the nearby window to protect his food source. Interestingly, it appears that holly berries actually benefit from cold - they apparently soften and become milder in flavor after a few freezes, making them even more delectable to birds.

Oh, and just for fun, here's a picture of the little live tree we have on the porch in My Florida Backyard. The big (fake) tree is inside, but we just can't resist having a live tree to smell and enjoy during the holidays!


  1. What a lovely fruit is that, i think it sweet and delicious.

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