This evergreen shrub produces fragrant white flowers that are followed by purplish-black berries. The berries are edible—but not particularly tasty.
Myrtus communis (common myrtle) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
This shrub’s downy, golden-gray buds hang in tight clusters from its bare branches. Lacking scales, these buds are naked, but they do have fine hairs to protect them. The hairs also give the buds a wonderful shimmery quality so they sparkle in the winter sun.
Edgeworthia chrysantha (paperbush) in the Fragrance Garden.Photo: Elizabeth Peters.
In fall, the oak-shaped leaves of Hydrangea quercifolia produce vivid shades of purple, red, and gold.
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’ (oak-leaved hydrangea) on Magnolia Plaza.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Dwarf Blue Spruce
Raindrops cling to the uniquely colored needles of Picea pungens ‘Glauca Prostrata’ (dwarf blue spruce), west of the Fragrance Garden.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Aloe ferox (cape aloe) in the Desert Pavilion.Photo: Blanca Begert.
Dogwood Baton Rouge ‘Minbat’
The bare, bright crimson stems of many dogwood cultivars provide vibrant color in fall and winter.
Cornus alba Baton Rouge = ‘Minbat’ (PBR) (Dogwood Baton Rouge (‘Minbat’)) in the Water Garden.Photo: Blanca Begert.
Cedar of Lebanon
This tree is a true cedar—one of only three species in the world. Many North American conifers with aromatic wood were called “cedar,” but only true cedars are members of the Cedrus genus.
Cedrus libani (cedar of Lebanon) in the Plant Family Collection.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Actually an evergreen shrub, not a bamboo, Nandina domestica produces bright red berries in autumn that persist through winter.
Nandina domestica (heavenly bamboo) in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.Photo: Michael Stewart.
It’s hard to miss this iconic plant, whose flowers resemble a bright bird in flight. In its native South Africa, when endemic birds drink the nectar of Strelitzia reginae, its petals open to shower their feet with pollen.
Strelitzia reginae (bird-of-paradise) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Haemanthus albiflos (paintbrush) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Chinese juniper is an evergreen with scaly scented needles and brown bark that peels off in strips. Relatively salt-tolerant, it can thrive near roads and driveways.
Juniperus chinensis ‘Robust Green’ (Chinese juniper) in the Rock Garden.Photo: Michael Stewart.
The lovely berries of this native holly relative persist through winter, sometimes spring. These fruits are a welcome food for hungry birds as the weather cools and other options get scarce.
Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ (winterberry ) in the Discovery Garden.Photo: Michael Stewart.
The first of the hellebores to bloom is the Christmas-rose, so-called because it blooms around Christmastime and has a flower arrangement that looks similar to that of a rose.
Helleborus niger ‘Hgc Josef Lemper’ (Christmas-rose) blooming in the Entry Garden.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Medinilla multiflora is commonly known as the Malaysian-orchid, though it is neither a true orchid nor native to Malaysia. Native to the Philippines, this species (like many orchids) is an epiphyte: an "air plant" that grows on top of other plants, rather than putting roots in the ground.
Medinilla multiflora (Malaysian-orchid) in the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Native to the southeastern United States, this pretty understory tree produces small orange-red fruits in the fall.
Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ (green hawthorn) near the Visitor Center.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Mahonia japonica (Japanese mahonia), a winter-flowering shrub, in lovely fragrant bloom by the Eastern Parkway entrance.Photo: Lee Patrick.
‘Jugatsu-zakura’ begins blooming around October, continues sporadically into December, and finishes in the spring with a last burst coinciding with new foliage. Pale pink flowers are single to double and can be quite striking during winter thaws.
Prunus × subhirtella ‘Jugatsu-zakura’ (flowering cherry) in the Cherry Cultivars Area.Photo: Elizabeth Peters.
Cedrus deodara (deodar cedar), within the Conifer Collection.Photo: Lee Patrick.
This is the holly species most commonly associated with Christmas, especially in England where it is one of the few native evergreen plants. Its bright red berries ripen in winter and provide food for birds.
Ilex aquifolium (English holly) in the Shakespeare Garden.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’
Most camellias begin to bloom in late winter and continue through early spring (though there are fall-blooming cultivars, too). They're seen as symbols of luck in Lunar New Year traditions.
Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’ (camellia) in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Camellia sasanqua (sasanqua camellia) in the Bonsai Museum.Photo: Blanca Begert.
Japanese Forest Grass
Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass) on Lily Pool Terrace.Photo: Lee Patrick.
The showy, orange fruits of Malus ‘Indian Magic’ (crabapple) awaiting the hungry appetite of birds. On Rose Family Hill.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Pinus wallichiana (Himalayan pine) in the Plant Family Collection.Photo: Blanca Begert.
Ilex × attenuata ‘Longwood Gold’ (topal holly) near the Visitor Center.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Justicia carnea var. purpurea (Brazilian plume) in the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Scutellaria costaricana (scarlet skullcap), blooming like fireworks in the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Carica papaya (papaya) in the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Eucharis × grandiflora (Amazon lily), blooming within the dense foliage of the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Osmanthus fragrans (fragrant olive) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Rice Paper Plant
Tetrapanax papyrifer (rice paper plant) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Michael Stewart.
Chinese Rain Bell
Strobilanthes cusia (Chinese rain bell) in the Warm Temperate Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
A December bloom of Bellis perennis (English daisy), in vibrant color at the Shakespeare Garden.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Camellia ‘Korean Fire’
A rain-dappled Camellia japonica ‘Korean Fire’ (common camellia) flower near the Children’s Garden.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Cyclamen species in the Washington Avenue woodland border.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Glycosmis pentaphylla (orangeberry, also gin berry) with berries, in the Tropical Pavilion.Photo: Lee Patrick.
Aloe suprafoliata (aloe) in the Desert Pavilion.Photo: Rebecca Bullene.