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Home  >> Tree Identification  >> American Holly

American Holly
Dune Holly
Scrub Holly

    American Holly leaf
Ilex opaca

The American Holly is a slow growing small evergreen tree with prickly leaves and, in most cases, red berries. The range of American Holly is from Massachusetts, along the coast to Delaware, inland to several counties in Pennsylvania. It range extends south to Florida, west to Texas and into southern Missouri. It is also cultivated in Hawaii.

American Holly is native to eastern North America and is similar in appearance to English Holly. The leaves are leathery, dark green, shiny, with sharp prickles on the margins. The leaves and fruit are often used in Christmas decorations.

The primary value of American Holly is the beauty of its foliage and the winter interest provide by its fruit. More than 1,000 different cultivars of American Holly have been developed. Female plants are most desirable due to their ability to produce berries, but a male plant in the area is necessary for pollination to occur. On most American Holly cultivars the fruit is red, but some varieties have orange or yellow fruit.

The greenish-white flowers of the American Holly are inconspicuous. The American Holly begins to flower in April in the southern portion of its range and in June in the north. The fruit starts to ripen between September and December and remains on the tree throughout most of the winter.

Branches of American Holly are short and crooked and the crown is usually rounded or pyramidal. The bark is gray, thin, and often warty. American Holly can be planted as an ornamental landscape tree or as a hedge.

Transplanting of American Holly trees should be done during the dormant season. Young American Holly trees can be transplanted bare rooted, but larger American Holly trees should be balled and burlapped.

American Holly Tree American Holly Tree

American Holly characteristics:

Form: Rounded or pyramidal

Fruit: Red, orange, or yellow berries.

Growth Rate: Slow

Leaves: Leathery, shiny, with sharp prickles on the margins

Mature height: 40 – 50’.

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