biggest and brightest berries on trees and shrubs,
especially hollies, typically appear just in time to
welcome the holiday season, making your landscape look
the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.,
berry-laden holly is used in the collegeís annual yule
log ceremony where ceremonial sprigs are tossed into a
Yule log fire in the Great Hall fireplace for good luck.
boughs of holly from campus plants are woven into
holiday decorations that the garden and grounds teams
create for the Presidentís House.
and Mary host not only native American species of holly,
but also Asian, and one or two European species as
well," says John McFarlane, associate director of
gardens and grounds, facilities management.
have both evergreen and deciduous types. Most people donít
realize that the deciduous types are hollies. Berries
you see on campus can be red, black or yellow depending
upon the species of holly."
addition to the better-known American, Foster,
Sparkleberry and yaupon hollies, the campus is home to
yellow-berried American holly, black-berried inkberry
holly, no-berry Chinese Carissa and red-berried Wirt
Winn holly which have large glossy green leaves that
resemble Southern magnolia. The campus is open to the
public so a casual walk around the grounds will take you
by many of the hollies.
garden centers and landscape designers recommend their
favorite berry-producing plants for use in your own
are so many varieties of hollies to keep track of Ö
big and small," says Peggy Krapf of Heartís Ease
Landscape & Garden Design, also in Williamsburg (www.HeartsEaseLandscape.com).
gardeners are looking for red berries they should read
the tags because not all hollies berry, and some have
black or dark blue fruit ó not red. Pyramidal red
hollies are some of my favorites for size and neatness
in a home garden ó but not all of them berry. Some
hollies berry without a male partner but many donít.
However, hollies of all types and varieties, including
our native Ilex opaca, are so common that pollination is
rarely an issue.
people do need to be aware of pruning practices. If you
continue to prune your holly after flower set and
pollination, you are cutting future berries. Wet spring
weather can also affect pollination and berry set. And,
like most flowering or berrying plants, the more sun
they get the showier they usually are."
holly, or Ilex opaca, is a dioecious plant, meaning it
needs male and female plants to make berries, according
to Helen Hamilton, past president of the John Clayton
Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society (www.vnps.org).
it takes is one male plant for good fruit production on
three to five female plants. April-June, small
greenish-white flowers appear on the male and female
trees, attracting insects that visit the flowers for
nectar, and carry pollen to the female flowers.
red fruits ó botanically called drupes ó ripen on
the pollinated female trees September ó October,
according to Hamilton. The fruits are prized winter food
for overwintering songbirds.
holly is the only native U.S. holly with leathery, spiny
green leaves and red berries, she adds. The ornamental
tree grows best in full sun and in moist, slightly
acidic, well-drained soils. Garden centers carry many
cultivars of the male and female trees.
holly, or Ilex vomitoria, is a versatile berry-producing
native plant, according to Darl Fletcher, assistant
horticulture curator at the Virginia Living Museum in
Newport News (www.thevlm.org).
evergreen understory tree has small, dark green oblong
shaped leaves, sports a profusion of bright red glossy
berries, and is happy in a wide variety of growing
conditions, he adds. The holly grows in a wide range of
soil types, is drought tolerant, and tolerates poor
drainage. While berry production is best in full sun,
yaupon holly does well in shade, too.
the landscape, yaupon holly can be used in numerous
applications depending on the variety. For instance,
dwarf cultivars can be used in foundation plantings.
Columnar varieties work well to incorporate height in
foundation plantings when placed at house corners or
entranceways. A weeping variety or straight species
looks nice as specimen plantings and adds height to
beds. As well, straight species make excellent screens
because they are dense, evergreen and like pruning.
also benefits from yaupon hollies in your
landscape," says Fletcher.
evergreen species provides year round cover for birds as
well as nesting sites. Yaupon berries provide winter
food for birds and small mammals. Its flowers are a
nectar source for bees and other pollinators, and itís
the larval host of Henrys Elfin butterfly."