Naturalist’s Corner – Winter Plants!

Naturalist’s Corner – Winter Plants!

Posted December 11, 2019

Written by Kyla Isakson

Looking for some ornamental plants to spruce up your winter garden or decorate your home for the winter season? Here are some things you should know about those popular glossy green plants with reddish fruits.

Photo of oriental bittersweet courtesy of Mass Audubon.

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is a woody vine that is native to Japan, China, and Korea that was originally brought to America in the 1800s to be used as an ornamental plant. After being introduced to the environment in the U.S., the plant began to take over. This invasive species outcompetes other plants for ground space, sunlight, and nutrients. Between people using the fruits and stems for decorations and birds eating the fruits and seeds, this plant has become more widespread, which has affected the native species in the area. Instead of using oriental bittersweet, consider planting American bittersweet, which is a native species to the area, and it has a similar look to oriental bittersweet.

Photo of American holly courtesy of Mass Audubon.

American holly (Ilex opaca), native to the United States, is a woody shrub with leathery green leaves that bear sharp teeth along the edge, and a fruit with a hard pit in the center. This fruit is toxic to humans, but white-tailed deer and about 20 species of birds typically eat them. American holly is a native species to the area, an effective source of food for many animals, and a great plant to use for landscaping.

(C) Wareham Land Trust ~ provided by New Bedford Internet