American Holly

Asked January 1, 2020, 5:37 PM EST

Why are very few or no berries on the native America Holly's this year? I have been in various parts of the forests here on the Eastern Shore ( Dorchester Co.) and there simply are not berries on the trees? I know that there must be male and female trees but ALL of the trees are missing their berries.

Dorchester County Maryland

3 Responses

There could be a few reasons for low berry abundance on American Hollies at this point. When the plants were flowering, if the weather was cool and/or rainy, the pollinating insects (solitary bees, for instance) may not have been able to fly or provide effective pollination. Regional differences in weather - such as patchy rain - could account for some populations having more fruit than others. If the hollies were stressed during fruit development, the unripe fruit could have been aborted. Plants will often sacrifice flower buds or developing fruit when underdoing environmental stress, such as drought, that limits critical resources for growth or causes other biochemical changes that can affect reproduction. Lastly, perhaps the berries did develop and ripen but have already been consumed by wildlife. Birds tend to leave holly berries for late-winter foraging but have been known to eat them much earlier in winter if they are low on alternatives.


Thank you so much for your response. I suspected the drought that we had in August and September. I just wanted confirmation.