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Winter’s Decoration: The American Holly

ilexBerryThe American holly (Ilex opaca) is among the most recognizable plants in holiday decoration and imagery. Lore surrounding the species has played an important part in its popularity for centuries: promoting wealth, tranquility, and foresight.  Civilizations throughout history have used floral arrangements to convey their messages and commonly contained sprigs of colorful holly.  This tradition is still popular in decorations throughout the holiday season.

Bernheim’s Holly collection contains over 160 selections (cultivars) of American Holly, making it one of the largest in the United States. There are subtle differences within each plant including leaf and fruit color, growth habit and form.  The leaves of each variety may contain only a couple of spines, or leaf edges may be laden and sharp to touch.  Berries on individual plants are found in red, yellow, gold, orange and deep maroon.  In mid November, cooler temperatures transform the fruits into a colorful decoration that light up the trees otherwise quiet disposition. The berries remain on the plants for most of the winter until the robins arrive to feast on what may be their favorite treat.

We hope that you will find time to visit Bernheim during the next couple of months to enjoy the spectacular color throughout the Holly Collection.  In addition to hollies, the collection showcases unique and colorful conifers from all over the world.  Take a stroll on the two ponds loop and discover the array of color that only winter can bring.