Wednesday, February 29, 2012

American Holly - Ilex opaca

The American Robin in the American Holly Tree (Ilex opaca).
This photo was taken by  Janet .  You can find her images at:
Thank you, Janet!!!
The American Holly is part of the family called Aquifoliaceae.  This family has three species that grow in the Appalachian Mountains.  Ilex montana, Ilex opaca, and Ilex verticilalta.

Aquifoliaceae is a family of about 400 species. Most all of these species belong to the genus Ilex, also known as the hollies. They are mostly evergreen trees or shrubs, though some are deciduous and lose their leaves seasonally. 

This family is characterized by having alternate, simple, and often evergreen leaves.  This family has small flowers and berrylike drupes.  The flowers are dioecious.  This means that the male and female parts are on separate flowers and separate plants.  Drupes are fruits with a fleshy outer part and a seed inside, like a peach.

I am so very interested in learning more about birds this year and the trees that the birds are visiting.  The birds love the hollies for they eat the berries in the winter and also because mostly they still have their leaves in the winter.  The birds use the leaves on the trees as a shelter for them in the winter.  

To see a holly tree on a snowy day with a Redbird or Robin sitting in it's branches always brings a smile to my face and a sense of gratitude to my heart.

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