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Plant Details

Ilex opaca

American Holly, Christmas Holly

Scientific Name:

Ilex opaca

Genus:

Ilex

Species Epithet:

opaca

Common Name:

American Holly, Christmas Holly

Plant Type

Tree

Life Cycle

Perennial

Plant Family

Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)

Native/Alien:

NC Native

Size:

12-36 ft., 36-72 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

White, Green

Light:

Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Dry, Moist, Wet

Bloom Time:

April, May, June

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

In a wide variety of forests, ranging from xeric to wetland (Weakley 2015). Common throughout NC.

Leaf Arrangement:

Alternate

Leaf Retention:

Evergreen

Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:

Simple

Life Cycle:

Perennial

Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Recommended and Available

Male plant in bloom

image

Jack Spruill, 4/28/09, Hampstead

From Jack Spruill - As with all the Ilex that I know, the male plants have many more flowers than do the females.

Female plant

Females must be near a male plant to set fruit. This one was 25' from the preceding male tree so it has a heavy berry set.

image

Jack Spruill, 4/28/09, Hampstead

Fruits

image

David Paynter, Wilmington, 2/1/2011

Bark of a mature tree.

The bark is normally gray and smooth. This one is unusually beautiful.

image

Jack Spruill, 12/21/06, Hampstead

Bark on a very old tree.

image

Jack Spruill, 6/29/09, Albemarle Sound

From Jack: Here is a very old Ilex opaca on my farm on the Albemarle Sound. This tree is very tall. I do not know if it is a male or female. Often I can tell the sex of the American Holly by examining its leaves. The leaves of a male tend to be smaller than the leaves of the female.

Links:

USDA PLANTS Database Record

In a wide variety of forests, ranging from xeric to wetland (Weakley 2015).


Bird-Friendly Native Plants



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