Photographed by Bette Jackson
If you are have difficulty playing the audio click here
Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Of the approximately 400 different kinds of holly found around the world, many are found in North America, and eleven are native to Florida. Most are small trees or shrubs and many are used in landscaping because of the dark-green foliage and bright-red berries. Hollies occur as separate male and female trees or bushes, and only the females produce the red fruits. The family to which hollies belong is known as the Aquifoliacea, a name that literally means 'having leaves with spines on them'. Many hollies, such as the American holly, are evergreen and have thick, leathery leaves with spark spines around leaf edges. Prickly leaves may protect hollies from some plant-eating animals, but they also have great habitat value for some birds. They provide cover and protective barrier for hidden nests. Mockingbirds, cardinals, and other birds often seek out dense holly as nest sites and some, such as the mockingbird, find hollies useful for both bed and breakfast. Birds eat the bright-red berries, but the berries may just be an acceptable food, not a favorite one. Other foods are usually eaten first, which may be why we have those red berries to enjoy during our mid-winter holidays.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.