Hickory and I were making use of the human sidewalk and bounded by a row of shrubs that must have been put in for wildlife because they have berries on them, now in winter. Here’s the first I checked with Miz Flora – Winterberry.


Without going around to look, she says it is in the Ilex genus, possibly Ilex verticillata, but may be a human-engineered species. It’s related to holly trees, but it is deciduous, which you probably realized since there are no leaves on the shrub. A whole variety of birds eat the berries – almost fifty different kinds.

Winterberry berries

But, these berries are not for humans! The berries are poisonous!

Miz Flora hadn’t noticed the shrub before, but when we read up on it, we discovered it only blooms (and has berries) after the plant is three years old. And here is another tricky part: this plant has male and female plants – the term is dioecious. Only the male shrubs produce the berries.

That’s having to plan ahead to feed your wildlife!


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