As I left the supermarket this morning, a little white dog, who was enthusiastically sniffing the planted borders of the car park, sprang up in the air like a rocket, yelped and fled back to his owner. I wanted to investigate and thought it just might be the extremely venomous and to-be-avoided-at-all-costs, diamond backed rattle snake. I took a rather tentative look as today, of course, I had forgotten to bring with me my professional snake tongs and sack. Thankfully there was no snake but an aggressive and very ferocious Chinese Holly bush which resisted my attempts to snatch a leaf with grim determination.
However here are 3 leaves, gathered at some personal cost as this low lying dense and prickly shrub has leaves of steel with needle like sharp points which stick out all directions and directly in to your flesh.
My plan for the leaf chart will have to wait for a day or two but this holly is a very good example of a leaf with a glabrous surface .. yes… glabrous means smooth and in botanical terms is the opposite to pubescent which of course means hairy! There are many different grades of hairiness and I look forward to my first samples of floccose, strigose and villous leaves.
Sitting on my drawing table these funny leaves looked like bizarre and aggressive insects. Their Latin name is ilex cornuta.. 'cornuta' meaning horned, very appropriate.
My aim here is to show the top surface as smooth and shiny, the underside as duller and paler. I have not exaggerated the spines.
For those wishing to hear the name beautifully said in Italian go here!!!!! I am finding some more and exciting audio clips to add occasionally so stay tuned.