Nature on our doorsteps: Evergreen and holly at Christmas...

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin county Council, every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures.

The two native plants that we perhaps most associate with Christmas are the evergreen holly and ivy. Images of holly’s bright red berries and glossy, prickly, leaves often include the robin, while the dark green leaves of ivy form the basis of many a Christmas wreath or garland.

Both plants are also important for wildlife. Holly berries are loved by thrushes and blackbirds and by migrating redwings and fieldfares in colder winters.

nature collage december 22

Then, when all other hedgerow berries are gone, purple ivy berries will fill the hungry gap in early springtime until the weather warms up.

The prickly nature of holly bushes and the dense, heavy growth of ivy also make them excellent nesting sites for blackbirds and robins.

Both plants are also linked ecologically by the dainty Holly Blue butterfly.

This butterfly lays its eggs on holly in early springtime. The caterpillars feed on its flowers and buds and when they transform into butterflies in early summer, a second generation of Holly Blues follow.

This time around, however, the second brood of eggs are laid on ivy instead.

In Irish folklore, holly is listed as one of the ‘noble’ trees and was referred to as ‘tinne’, meaning ‘iron bar’, reflecting perhaps the very dense, strong nature of its wood.

Prev Nature on our doorsteps: Witch’s brooms
Next World peace for Christmas, in memory of Johnny Preston
  • Tallaght father Mick Morrissey issues an important message after his son Alex tragically passed away
  • Sixteen of Ireland’s most iconic sports stars join forces
  • A message from Stephen Kenny
  • Happy Mother's Day - Sea of Change Choir
  • The Echo speaks to Trish Nolan manager of the South Dublin County Volunteer Centre

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.