Home for The HollyDays - December Ecoquest

Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora's December EcoQuest is Home for the HollyDays! Holly trees are attractive natives that have become symbols of the winter holidays. Hollies are one of the few trees found in all fifty states, with several species native to Sarasota and Manatee counties. Hollies are dioecious, meaning that trees bear either male or female flowers, but not both. The female trees bear beautiful berries. While they are toxic to humans, the berries are an excellent food source for birds and mammals in the winter. Many insects pollinate the flowers and the dense foliage of the trees is excellent for wildlife.


(Image of Ilex vomitoria in bonsai form at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens)

The leaves of some holly trees can be made into tea. The Yaupon holly is the most caffeinated plant in the United States. Native Americans used the leaves for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, making a black drink. Because these ceremonies involved vomiting (likely due to fasting and consuming large quantities of caffeine), Scottish botanist William Aiton named it Ilex vomitoria in 1789. When moderately consumed, it does not actually cause vomiting, and you can now purchase Yaupon holly tea commercially! In addition to teas, one of our native hollies, Ilex glabra, (also known as gallberry and inkberry), provides us with delicious honey from its nectar.

For more help ID'ing these holiday hollies check out our handy reference guide here!

Also be sure to check out our scientists going depth depth on the Ilex genus in our monthly Ecoquest Video, Home for the Hollydays!

Publicado por sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean sarasota_manatee_ecoflora_sean, 01 de diciembre de 2020

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