Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ilex verticillata, Winterberry

This native plant is at the height of its beauty now. Winterberry is a deciduous holly that prefers marshy wood edges. The berries appear on the female plants around September or October.

In October, the leaves turn yellow and speckled.

The leaves have now dropped off, leaving behind the berries. This photo is of a small winterberry growing in my yard. It doesn’t have many berries. Elsewhere, in wild patches along the roads, dense thickets of winterberry are now blazing red against the bleak woods.

The berries will last until midwinter, and are an important food source for various bird species. It appears that other creatures eat them, as well, judging by the poo that was recently left in my yard. By the size of the dropping, I would guess it was either a raccoon or an opossum that made the deposit, but I am left wondering how such a heavy rodent could have climbed a slender winterberry.

The berries aren’t edible for humans, sadly.

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