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Cultivated holly varieties will often be marketed with their gender equivalent tree. By their nature, cultivated varieties (cultivars) are genetically distinct plants selected for a particular trait or combination of reliable characteristics. This means that while the female and male plants may share a common genetic heritage (i.e. the same parent trees), each plant is distinctly and fundamentally different from one another. Pollination is not dependent on having the marketed counterpart, and any male that flowers at roughly the same time as the female holly will act as a berry pollinator with few exceptions. The Nellie R. Stevens & Edward J. Stevens hollies are an excellent example of this concept. The Edward J. Stevens holly is often marketed as the male companion cultivar to the Nellie R. Stevens holly; however, the two plants are distinct cultivars – i.e. the Edward J. Stevens is not simply a male clone of the female Nellie R. Stevens. Like many male companion cultivars, the Edward J. Stevens was simply found among the same planted seedlings as its female counterpart. Examples of this practice are numerous, and put simply, the practice is amusing. Some other notable pairs are Jersey Princess & Jersey Knight, Emily Bruner & James Swan, Blue Princess & Blue Prince, and Blue Maid & Blue Stallion. It is important to note, not all male/female names can be taken at face value. Sometimes male and female nomenclature is deceptive. A good example of this is the variegated Highclere holly cultivars Golden King & Golden Queen. With this pair, the Golden King is actually the female cultivar.
“Hundreds of cattle and sheep have died here in the past five years from bubby. The seeds only are poisonous. When a brute gets a sufficient does , from five to ten well filled pods, it makes for the nearest water and often falls dead while drinking, or it may live three or four weeks and then die. The symptoms are like those of a man extremely drunk, except that any noise frightens it. Stamp the ground hard, close to a brute poisoned with bubby, and it will jump and jerk and tremble for several minutes. That is our method of telling when they have taken it. The eyes turn white and glassy, and while lying they throw back the head and look as if dead already. Bubby does not seem to hurt a brute so much if it cannot get water. Our best remedy is apple brandy, strong coffee and raw eggs poured down as soon as possible after finding. It is certain that bubby is the most poisonous of any shrub or weed in existence here, from the fact that when brutes have once eaten it, they will take it every time they can get it. It grows on every hillside, along all branches [creeks], in every fence corner and almost everywhere here.”
– JHH Boyd [Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club v.15 1888 – p.208]
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