A Real Florida Holly

Because it has copious red berries at Christmas time, Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) sometimes is called Florida holly mistakenly.  Florida is home to 15 native hollies, not all of which have red berries.

Dahoon holly (Ilex cassine) – like Brazilian pepper – has red berries at Christmas time.  But, unlike Brazilian pepper, its leaves are opposite and bear tiny teeth.

The leaves of Brazilian pepper, shown below, are odd pinnate, and the leaf margins (edges) have a scalloped appearance.  Sometimes, the rachis (leafstem) is a bit winged.

Wildlife consume and spread the red berries of both of these plants.  Both of these plants are dioecious:  Male and female flowers occur on separate plants.

Dahoon holly “plays nice with others” and prefers moist soils and is founding growing in mesic hammock areas at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA).  It also grows on the edges of freshwater wetlands, as picoted below at the Indrio Savannahs Preserve just a few miles south of the ORCA.

Brazilian pepper grows almost everywhere and thrives in disturbed places.  It is as salt tolerant as red mangroves.  The cultivation and sale of this invasive pest plant is prohibited.

Common names for plant can be confusing.  Hollies belong to Aquifoliaceae, the holly family.  Brazilian pepper belongs to the Anacardiaceae, the (sumac or cashew) family, along with poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum), and mango (Mangifera indica).

Please never be blasphemous and refer to Brazilian pepper as Florida holly.

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