Plant Details

Ilex opaca

American Holly, Christmas Holly

Scientific Name:

Ilex opaca

Common Name:

American Holly, Christmas Holly

Plant Family

Aquifoliaceae (Holly Family)


NC Native



Bloom Color(s):


Size in Feet:



Part-sun, Shade

Soil Moisture:

Hygric, Mesic, Xeric(*)

Bloom Time:

April - May - June

Bloom Area:

Statewide (Mountains, Piedmont, Coast)

Habitat Description:

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

State Rank:

No NC Rank Listed (*)

Global Rank:

No Global Rank listed (*)

State Status:

No NC Status Listed (*)

Federal Status:

No U.S. Status Listed (*)

Male plant in bloom


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.


Jack Spruill, 4/28/09, Hampstead



David Paynter, Wilmington, 2/1/2011

Bark of a mature tree.

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


Jack Spruill, 12/21/06, Hampstead

Bark on a very old tree.


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.


USDA PLANTS Database Record

In a wide variety of forests, ranging from xeric to wetland (Weakley 2015).
Bird-Friendly Native Plants

Permalink - (right click to save this page to your bookmarks)


NEXT >>>

back to top
go to gallery
back to Initial i Gallery
back to orchids
back to Carnivorous Plants
back to Trilliums