Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Invasives (?) and hybrid hollies

We've got the usual suspects in our woods and in 'natural' areas --that is, moderately disturbed areas- both in the botanical garden where I work, and in any area that's 'open' nearby.

There are lots of invasives:  Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, Autumn (and Russian) olive (Eleagnus spp.), and Vinca spp. (major and minor). There are others, too (kudzu is a non-horticultural addition to the list).

Natural plant communities in the Southeastern U.S. (like my gardening companion describes in his recent book) represent distinctive combinations of native plants.

But these get jumbled up with species from elsewhere (that's where the invasives and even less problematic species, come in).

Our holly hedges below the Nature Center (at the botanical garden where I work) are an excellent example.  They're 'Nellie R. Stevens' according to  our former Garden manager, and since he's an excellent horticulturist, I imagine he was right.

Nellie R. Stevens is a hybrid between Ilex aquifolia and Ilex cornuta ), that is, a hybrid between English holly and a Chinese holly.  Its offspring are apparently fertile, as we're seeing all sorts of holly seedlings (mixed parentage) in the disturbed forest habitat beyond the Children's Garden.  Some of the seedlings undoubtedly are from the Nellie R. Stevens recombinations, but some are probably from the Foster holly cultivars above the Hayden Conference Center/Hanson Nature Center, too.

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