American Holly, Ilex opaca, grows in the woods to the west of the lake. The bush pictured here is in my yard, saving me from battling the mosquitoes and deer flies so heavy out there. It seems that five petaled flowers are quite rare, four being the common configuration. It makes me wonder if my bushes, coming from a nursery as they did, are some species variation.
"Holly berries are mildly toxic and will cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea when ingested by people. However they are extremely important food for numerous species of birds, and also are eaten by other wild animals. In the fall and early winter the berries are hard and apparently unpalatable. After being frozen or frosted several times, the berries soften, and become milder in taste. During winter storms, birds often take refuge in hollies, which provide shelter, protection from predators (by the spiny leaves), and food."