Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winterberries- Denmark

Denmark Post regularly issue the stamp series with topic of flora fauna. On November 7, 2008, they issued stamps feature flora series , fruit of Winterberries European Holly, White Christmas Rose, Snowberry, and Yew Tree. The stamps series composed of 4 postage stamp with different face value.
European Holly/Ilex aquifolium
European holly or  Ilex aquifolium, also called  holly,  is a species of holly native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. Holly is a very ancient species.The habitat of Holly today is in addition to humid Mediterranean areas, the Atlantic temperate zones of Europe and North Africa mountain.
Native in the countries of the Mediterranean, it is now a protected species in some parts of Europe due to wild predation as Christmas decoration.
It is an evergreen tree growing to 10–25 m tall and 40–80 cm, rarely 1 m or more, trunk diameter.Its woody stem, has gray bark. It has smooth bark throughout its life.Its shiny leaves with spiny edge, are evergreen, dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, elliptical, leathery and about 5 to 9 cm long.The flowers are dioecious, white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. The fruit is a red drupe 6–10 mm diameter,The fruits, red and fleshy, are typical of winter because this is precisely the ripening season. The fruits reach the crimson color typically in October and remain so during the cold months, which makes them a vital food source for forest animals. They are poisonous for human consumption.
It has great ecological value because it is a rugged pioneer species that preserves and enriches the soil facilitating colonization by others. It is of great value to birds and other fauna, including invertebrates that feed on their fruits and disperse their seeds. It is an ecological indicator of a well-preserved area, slightly degraded or recovering. Where a population of hollies thrives, it is indicative of an area with little human intrusion. They are usually found in isolated communities and remote areas.
White Christmas Rose/Helleborus niger
Helleborus niger, commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. It is poisonous. The plant is a traditional cottage garden favourite, because it flowers in the depths of winter.
Although the flowers resemble wild roses (and despite its common name), Christmas rose does not belong to the rose family (Rosaceae). Helleborus niger is  an  evergreen   plant with dark, leathery, pedate   leaves carried on stems  to   23–30 cm tall. The large, flat flowers, borne on short stems from midwinter to early spring, are white, or occasionally pink.
Helleborus niger has proved easier to cross with other hellebore species. Helleborus niger contains protoanemonin, or ranunculin,which has an acrid taste and can cause burning of the eyes, mouth and throat, oral ulceration, gastroenteritis and hematemesis.
Yew Trees/Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia.
It is the tree originally known as yew, be now known as the English yew, or European yew. It is a small- to medium-sized evergreen tree, growing 10–20 metres(tall, with a trunk up to 2 metres.

The bark is thin, scaly brown, coming off in small flakes aligned with the stem. The leaves are lanceolate, flat, dark green, 1–4 centimetres  long and 2–3 millimetres broad, arranged spirally on the stem.The seeds themselves are extremely poisonous and bitter, but are opened and eaten by some bird species including Hawfinches and Great Tits.
It is relatively slow growing, and can be very long-lived, with the maximum recorded trunk diameter of 4 metres probably only being reached in about 2,000 years.Today European Yew is widely used in landscaping and ornamental horticulture. . Well over 200 cultivars of T. baccata have been named
Most parts of the tree are toxic, except the bright red aril surrounding the seed, enabling ingestion and dispersal by birds. The major toxin is the alkaloid taxane. The foliage remains toxic even when wilted or dried.
The precursors of chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel can be derived from the leaves of European Yew.In the Central Himalayas, the plant is used as a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer.

imageSnowberries/Symphoricarpos rivularis
Snowberry or Symphoricarpos, is a small genus of about 15 species of deciduous shrubs in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae. All species are natives of North and Central America, except one native to western China.
The Symphoricarpos leaves are 1.5–5 cm long, rounded, entire or with one or two lobes at the base.

The flowers are small, greenish-white to pink, in small clusters of 5–15 together in most species, solitary or in pairs.
The fruit are conspicuous, 1–2 cm in diameter, soft, varying from white  to red  and in one species (S. sinensis), blackish purple. When the white berries are broken open, the fruit inside looks like fine, sparkling granular snow.
Symphoricarpos rivularis is deciduous shrub that will form a thicket if not cut back regularly. Leaves are borne from upright, arching shoots and are oval and dark green. Racemes of bell-shaped, pink flowers bloom in summer followed by white fruit. The fruit taste is very bitter.
This is a nice underused plant. If you live in an area of snow it is an effective large scale groundcover. Its root system is vigorous and deep enough to hold most banks. It is streamside in many locales and would be an excellent restoration plant. Thrashers and towees will eat the berries when they get hungry enough to eat them.The fruits are very bitt.

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