At the edge of my property a stand of trees, with winding branches and dark green leaves makes the perfect hideout for wildlife. They are wild Dahoon Holly trees. For the past month or so some of these tree branches have been loaded with red berries. It is February as I write this.
This thick area of trees and shrubs is where the raccoons come from each night. It’s also where the zillions of stray cats walk as they pass through the yard.
I don’t know if the birds knew I wanted photos today, but they showed up in droves. Unfortunately I am not such a good wildlife photographer! I saw a bunch of grosbeaks gathered on a berry laden branch, and got this photo of a robin (center of picture) – not a good photo, I know. In fact, the many birds have nearly eaten all the berries!
Now I’ve been trying to find some information about this type of tree. They are similar to the East Palatka Holly. But the Dahoon likes wet feet. It grows best in areas that are soggy. The land where it is growing is often wet from rain runoff from my yard, so it makes sense that the tree would grow well there.
The trunk can actually be split into many trunks, like in my photo below.
You need a male and female plant to get the berries to grow. I’m not sure yet how to tell the trees apart, but obviously they both grow in the woods next to my house. I may try to propagate this tree so I can have one in my yard. I need to find more information.
Next Fall I will pay closer attention to this tree when it blooms and sets the berries.
The many branches of this holly tree create a beautiful tangle of perches for birds. It’s tough for predators to grab a bird from that mess!
If anyone ever decides to clear the lot where this stand of trees grows, I hope they leave these trees standing.
The day I took these photos of the berries, birds flocked to the trees and ate almost all of them! Glad I got the photos in time.
I’ve also seen this tree growing on islands along the Indian River. Apparently they can tolerate salt water as well.