Bad Berries

Asparagus fern

Many people grow holly so that they can use sprigs of it in their holiday décor. But keep an eye out for any "bad berries," invasive imposters that might be lurking in your landscape.

Several other plants that produce red berries have become serious pests in Florida, including Brazilian pepper, nandina, coral ardisia, asparagus fern, and Surinam cherry. All of these are non-native invasive species, which means they spread into natural areas, crowd out native plants, and disrupt habitats.

Brazilian pepper, nandina, and coral ardisia all pose especially serious challenges for public land managers, since large-scale eradication efforts are time-consuming and costly.

You can help be part of the solution by removing any invasive plants you might find growing in your landscape. If you need help identifying an unknown plant, your county Extension office can help.

Luckily, there are three hollies native to Florida: American, Yaupon, and Dahoon, as well as a hybrid of American and Dahoon, called East Palatka holly. All produce the shiny green leaves and red berries we associate with "Christmas holly."