An ilex vomitoria. Not schillings. Or, how to clip the male of the species

Here’s a tree you won’t see much.
20120818-093450.jpg
It is an ilex vomitoria. The wild one. The Original.
It is also a male.
“Wait a minute. ” you ask,
” Plants can be male or female?”
Yes they can. The holly (ilex) family is dioecious. Meaning there are male and female plants.
To simplify it drastically.The male ilex plant will have flowers but no fruit. The female will have flowers and will have fruit. A traditional red holly berry.
There are some plants that have both male and female flowers on the same plant. And some plants have flowers that have male and female parts within the same flower.
That’s a very basic explanation. I suggest further reading. Plant sexuality, Wikipedia.

20120818-223822.jpg
This is before. I’ve let it grow for a full year.
20120818-223927.jpg20120818-223945.jpg
Very bushy!
The male of the species is smaller than the female. It won’t get more than 10-12 ft tall. The female, on the other hand, is a small tree and can get about 20-25 ft tall.
The shrub we use in Florida and in the south is ilex vomitoria “schilling”, a dwarf variety . It can get about 6 ft tall. It, by the way, is only male and is only reproduced by cuttings. So, technically, all schillings are clones.
There is a female dwarf called “nana”

20120818-231124.jpg
I know this one is a nana because it says so on the pot…..
Well, the growth habit is different too.
20120818-231224.jpg
On the schilling it’s more haphazard and all over. On the nana it’s more upright and straight.
Plus we have the berries. don’t forget them.
20120818-231355.jpg
They will turn bright red as winter comes.
20120818-231435.jpg
The leaves are bigger and more like an ilex cornuta (Japanese holly) more rounded, and the new growth is all green.

20120818-231605.jpg
Not red like the schillings growth. Purty, ain’t it?

20120818-231650.jpg
Back to the vomitoria. The growth habit on this tree is very sparse and vigorous. Which seems counterintuitive. But…
20120818-231757.jpg
This is schillings to give you contrast.

20120818-231848.jpg
Vomitoria again.

20120818-231913.jpg
Schillings again.
I had trimmed and fertilized both of these plants at the same time and you can see the growth. I would guess the leaf count is the same but its the internode length that is the difference.
20120818-232140.jpg
I don’t own a potted female vomitoria but here is a pic from The Magic Kingdom of an old one. The leaf size is about double that of the male.
20120818-232310.jpg
This one might be 30 years old. It’s been trimmed a lot. It’s about 15 ft tall.
There are some on Tom Sawyers Island that are about 25 ft tall.
20120818-232458.jpg
For kicks, this is ilex vomitoria “pendula” a weeping form. There are both male and female forms of this.
Back to the vomitoria.

20120818-233101.jpg
It has a decent trunk and an interesting nebari. Not spectacular but serviceable. This is typical of what I’ve seen (at native plant nurseries, which is probably the only place you’ll find one) of the trunk characteristics of the male vomitoria; The odd, almost, knee-like roots and the branch angles at a 45 degree angle upward.

20120818-233454.jpg
A quick topiary cut.
This pic disproves the naysayers who poo poo on the vomitoria. They say that it will never get dense enough. I always say that one should never underestimate how dense the male of the species can get. (this post was actually so I could use that one line. You’ll get the joke sooner if you’re a female).

20120818-234038.jpg
Side view. I’ve wired it a bit. The vomitoria is even more brittle than the schillings and it is very easy to snap a branch. So it is more of a “clip n grow” tree. Click here to see how I trim an ilex.

20120818-234246.jpg
It’s a little taller than I usually make my trees but I think it has a good tree-like quality to it.
I like it, I thinks it’s mighty fine.

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in refine and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to An ilex vomitoria. Not schillings. Or, how to clip the male of the species

  1. Jason Ellis says:

    Francis, is right, the tea is delicious and caffeinated as well! I’m starting a yaupon tea company so stumbled across your page searching for all things yaupon. Your bonsai are beautiful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s