Wednesday, 27 March 2013

AirSpace Yarden - another donation

Its not only the lingering snow that makes the AirSpace Yarden think it's christmas - as another plant donation arrived at the gallery this morning.

Thanks to June Branscombe, we now have a holly bush - in this case an Ilex aquifolium or 'Ferox Argentea', a variegated English holly. The leaves are a deep green, with a nice yellow variegation, but the peculiar thing about this holly, is that the spines are not only on the edges of the leaves, but on the surface too.

Berries are obviously an important feature for us, in tempting birdlife to our space, and this male plant should ensure that the nearby female hollies are pollinated and bear plenty of fruit.

Some interesting holly facts

  • Holly berries contain alkaloidscaffeine, and theobromine and are somewhat toxic to humans, though their poisonous properties are overstated and fatalities almost unknown.
  • The Ferox Argentea has gained the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM)
  • As a tree, it can exceed 10 m in height.
  • The sex cannot be determined until the plants begin flowering, usually between 4 and 12 years of age. In male specimens, the flowers are yellowish and appear in axillary groups. In the female, flowers are isolated or in groups of three and are small and white or slightly pink, and consist of four petals and four sepals partially fused at the base.
  • Holly is rarely used medicinally due to its toxicity, but is diuretic, relieves fevers, and has a laxative action. It contains saponins, the xanthine theobromine, and a yellow pigment, ilexanthin.
Thanks again to June for the generous donation, which is going to really add some substance, and a bit of pain, to the Yarden.

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