Nov 23, 2020 12:49 PM ET

iCrowdNewswire   Nov 23, 2020  7:49 AM ET

Holly trees are beautiful plants famous for their decorative use, especially during the Christmas season. Hollies refer to a very diverse group of trees, shrubs, and climbing lianas. There are almost 600 species of Holly, which is the only genus in the Aquifoliaceae family. Naturally, there are various sizes of Hollies, with some plants as small as 18 inches and some trees growing as tall as 60 feet! Hollies sport deep-dark green leaves and berries that come in a variety of stunning colors, including yellow, red, scarlet, purple, white, and black.

Holly trees are evergreen, meaning they maintain their lush green nature throughout the year regardless of the season. Hollies can be deciduous, meaning they shed leaves during the fall and go to sleep for winter. They maintain only what’s needed in order to survive for the season. 

Not Everything That Looks Good is Food 

While the berries on Hollies come in beautiful and bright colors, feigning something that’ll taste good, they are actually unsafe for humans and should be kept out of the reach of small children. All holly berries are toxic for human consumption. While they might not harm, you’ll probably feel queasy after eating any of these alluring fruits. Holly berries are classified as mildly toxic fruits. Holly berries contain a caffeine-like alkaloid, and consuming them can cause symptoms like: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and dehydration. 

Holly berries are food for some wildlife and will be consumed by birds and insects. Interestingly enough, the holly regulates when its berries are consumed. The berries are initially too bitter, too hard, and unpalatable for birds during the early winter due to mildly toxic compounds like saponins, flavonoids, and cyanogenic glycosides. However, as the winter persists, the chemicals are broken down and the holly berries become edible. Even when edible, consuming too much can be toxic for birds and they can only consume a few at a time. This forces the birds to return frequently. This evolutionary mechanism helps the Holly spread its seeds far and wide as birds excrete the seeds after consuming the berries. 

Other Interesting Facts About the Holly

  • The Holly is traditionally regarded as being able to ward off evil spirits. We’re not really sure where this belief comes from, but Holly is brought into homes to deter evil in many places. It is also believed that cutting down a Holly tree is a harbinger of bad luck. Another superstition is that hollies repel witches. Perhaps it’s not an accident that the Holly is spelled almost the same as holy
  • The Holly is famous for its spiked leaves and almost all variants of hollies have these spikes. However, their spikes only grow close to their bottoms. At the top, the leaves become noticeably rounded and less spiky. 
  • The Holly is one of the most insect-resistant plants in the world. There are only 29 known species of insects that can feed on the Holly. In comparison, other plants often provide food for hundreds of insects. Among the few insects that can feed on the Holly is the leaf miner.
  • Hollies are dioecious, meaning the plant is either male or female. They need to be pollinated to bear berries. As such, any Holly plant you see with berries is a female. Though, some species of Holly have both male and female flowers on a single plant
  • The garden variety of Holly, called the Golden King, is a female while the Golden Queen is male!

In conclusion, Holly is a stunning plant with a rich history, a beautiful vibrant look, and a durable nature. Holly is always a great addition to your garden.