Monday, October 19, 2009

Ilex litseifolia is almost a perfect holly...well, I didn't see anything that wasn't perfect

I suspect I give the impression of being a little bit uncritical.....well, maybe even a rose-colored-glasses wearing Pollyana, but that's mostly for public consumption. I think that, like your children, you can love plants even knowing that they have faults. And it probably doesn't always do a lot of good to harp on inadequacies. I love many Hollies that I know have problems; maybe leaf chlorosis, or spot necrosis, or berries that just aren't a good red. Maybe the growth is awkwardly irregular, maybe there's dieback of twigs or branches.

I had to call Stefan at home to figure this one out. I photographed the label because I didn't know the plant. It turns out that that name, an obsolete synonym, is ungoogleable. I almost got it on my own by trying "Ilex liteseafolia" (which is, in fact, the way our label spells litseifolia) but alas, that didn't work. So I called Stefan, who, of course, put me on to the correct spelling. It's still one of those obscure of those plants that only Google to the "Flora of China" and a few other arcane and unhelpful sites.

Here's the thing though; click on the top picture, the close-up of leaves and berries. The leaves are thick, perfectly-shaped, and evenly dark green. The berries are smooth, unblemished, and a wonderful shade of crimson, none of that cheap scarlet. It's a perfect plant. Well, something might be wrong with it. One of our specimens died a nasty cankerous death. have to like it.

Entry in Flora of China.

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