Remember that fabulous full moon last week? The Wolf Moon -- or in the Choctaw/Chickasaw languages of the Mississippi River valley lands -- Neshoba Moon (Neshoba or Nashoba meaning "wolf"). It was so incredibly bright, shining through the January bare branches of the trees in our front yard. If you saw the moon last week, you know this picture doesn't begin to do it justice. See the tree with the red berries on the left? That is my favorite tree in the winter time -- a possum haw, they call it here.
Ilex decidua. A deciduous holly. Haw is an old-timey word for fruit, so I guess possums may be fond of it.
I love how the red berries stand out against the bark and the green of the pines and cedars.
It's especially striking when there is snow. I bought this tree at a native plant sale and planted it when it was a 24 inch baby. Over the years I worried that it might need a pollinator (like many hollies) or that I had bought a male tree (did you know that some tree species have separate male and female trees? Hollies, and Gingkos), because it did not set any fruit for many years. This year is the heaviest berry set I have had on it.
I've noticed this winter that the trees and shrubs have held on to their berries very late in the season. Usually by mid January the birds, squirrels, raccoons and possums have left the branches very bare. I haven't had as many birds at my feeders this winter either. I wonder if it is due to our cats (although there have always been cats in the neighborhood, and this is the third winter Ophelia and Belle have lived at our house). Santa brought the cats very elegant sparkly collars with bells this Christmas, but the collar was seriously irritating Ophelia's throat so we removed hers.