Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Sunday - January 24, 2010

From: Marlborough, MA
Region: Select Region
Topic: Trees
Title: What eats American holly bushes in winter?
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

I live in Marlborough, MA and I was shoveling snow on January 19th and noticed how beautiful my Holly bush was covered in red berries against the new fallen snow. My husband said to me this morning (January 23rd) "Did you notice your Holly bush out front? Something has eaten all the berries and the leaves." I could not believe it. It did not look like the same bush I was admiring less than a week ago. All berries and the leaves are gone and animal waste is all around it. What eats Holly in the winter?

ANSWER:

You can take some comfort in the fact that your beautiful holly has provided sustenance for some critter unable to find other food in snow bound Massachusetts. The scat you observed may provide a clue as to which critter, but there are a number of suspects. Deer, squirrels, and other small mammals will devour Ilex opaca (American holly) and the berries are an important source of food for as many as 18 species of birds. While there are a number of insect pests that may chew on hollies, that is unlikely at this time of year. The damage is most likely aesthetic, and your holly will recover in time for a good show next year. Look for more extensive information about American holly at this site


Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

 

More Trees Questions

Fruit trees for Kempner, Texas
November 29, 2013 - I just moved to Kempner , TX and would like to plant a couple of fruit trees in my 1 1/4 ac yard. I would like to plant a species that will do well and produce edible fruit. Any assistance will be app...
view the full question and answer

Are junipers tainting the soil in Loveland CO?
June 10, 2011 - Have several varieties of junipers around my yard. Each year I try to place a small garden in a corner of my yard, the plants don't do well at all. Growing up nearby, I gardened with my parents so ...
view the full question and answer

Can a soapberry tree be grown in Colorado Springs?
May 04, 2010 - I live in Colorado Springs and I was wondering if it is possible to grow a soapberry tree here?
view the full question and answer

Looking for an evergreen vine to grow on trellis as a privacy screen
July 11, 2015 - Hello, I'm looking for an evergreen vine to grow on a free standing trellis. It is used as a screen on our back porch, so ideally we would not like to use anything that flowers due to the insects ...
view the full question and answer

Need help controling suckers from an ornamental plum in San Pedro, CA.
August 10, 2010 - I have an ornamental plum tree in my garden which produces a lot of suckers in my vegetable beds. I do not want to use harmful chemicals and cutting them back is a hopeless venture and leaves small...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.