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American Holly in Winter
Johnsonville, South Carolina
American holly (Ilex opaca) is a small to medium evergreen tree in the family Aquifoliaceae, with red berries that persist into winter. It is native to the eastern and central United States. The berries are reputedly poisonous to humans, but are important survival food for birds, who will eat the berries after other food sources are exhausted. The tree also forms a thick canopy which offers protection for birds from predators and storms.
American holly is dioecious, meaning there are male plants with only male blossoms, and female plants with only female blossoms. One male can pollenize several females, but berries will not set without pollen from the male. Bees are also required, as wind pollination is negligeable.
American holly is often planted as an ornamental tree and is a popular Christmas decoration.