Bad Berries

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 peppernandina, 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.”

More from UF/IFAS

A shrub with oval light-green leaves and bright red berries
Brazilian pepper-tree, a showy invasive that has spread to over 700,000 acres in Florida. Photo: UF/IFAS File Photo
A shrub with oval light-green leaves and bright red berries
Nandina domesticaPhoto by Scott Zona.
Delicate needle like green leaves and red berries
Asparagus fern. Photo by Ken Langeland, UF/IFAS. All rights reserved.
A leggy plant with red berries
Coral ardisia. UF/IFAS.
Reddish orage berries that resemble tiny little pumpkins
Surinam cherry. Photo by Ann Murray, UF/IFAS. All rights reserved.