Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
In Mississippi the dead of winter is berry season in the landscape today on Southern Gardening.
Right now many trees and shrubs are loaded with bright red berries, and one of my favorites is yaupon holly. Yaupon holly has very distinctive berries. Sure they’re red and I mean bright candy apple red, but they also have a translucent quality that imparts a gem-like appearance. So in other words yaupon hollies are actually garden jewels that will sparkle in your landscape. The bark is a bright gray and accentuates the berry color. You can see native yaupon hollies growing all across Mississippi along the sides of the road. But there a couple of interesting selections of yaupon holly that are appropriate for the home landscape. Weeping yaupon is a small tree that can grow to about twelve feet high and the branches have a weeping cascading growth habit.
There is a dwarf selection called Schillings Dwarf that is a slow growing plant that is perfect for landscape mass or foundation plantings. This plant tolerates pruning and does not bear any fruit, but the new foliage is tinged with burgundy and purple and adds a hint of color. Yaupon holly is known botanically as Ilex vomitoria. If you can’t guess where this name comes from, Native Americans made a tea from yaupon that was used in rituals and ceremonies that would induce vomiting. Sounds like a party I don’t want to go to.
Besides adding beauty to our landscapes yaupon holly provides food for the birds. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.