The Holly is December's Birth Flower
Everyone knows that they have a specific birthstone that is placed in jewelry and trinkets to signify the month they were born in. However, many people don't know that just like the stones, each month has a flower or two as well, which symbolizes birth. Here is the history and meaning behind your birth flower, the holly.
The holly includes about 400 species of flowering plants including shrubs and trees that grow anywhere from 2-25m tall. They can be found throughout Asia, Europe, North Africa and North and South America. The plant has simple leaves and flowers, as well as small red berries with 10 seeds in them. Pollination is mainly done by bees and other insects.
Holly berries should not be ingested by humans as they are mildly toxic and can induce vomiting and diarrhea. However birds and other wild animals can eat the berries without any problem. The berries start off hard in the fall and winter, and only soften so that they can be eaten after they have been frozen or frosted in the wild several times.
The plant itself is often used by birds as shelter from the cold and wind during bad weather. The plant also provides protection from predators and the food that the birds need to survive during the storms.
There are several American species of Holly that are used to make caffeinated teas. In South America it is used to make yerba mate which is a common drink. In North and Central America a species of Holly was used by Indians as a ceremonial stimulant known as the black drink.
Fun and interesting fact: In western cultures Holly is a popular plant for the Christmas holidays and can often be found in decorations, on trees and in wreaths. The wood from the Holly plant is often used as the white chess pieces while ebony is used for the black pieces. In the times of Druids the wood was used to make magic wands, and in the 1800's the wood was used to make spinning rods in looms to make cloth.