General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Tree
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5a -28.9 °C (-20 °F) to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 20 - 50 feet (6.0 - 15.0 m)
Plant Spread: 10 - 20 feet (3.0 - 6.0 m)
Leaves: Unusual foliage color
Evergreen
Broadleaf
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: Fruits only occur on female-flowered plants, provided appropriate male flowered plant is present for pollination.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Late fall or early winter
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Fragrant
Other: American Holly is dioecious - male flowers and female flowers occur on separate plants.
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Resistances: Salt tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds
Sow in situ
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Cuttings: Tip
Pollinators: Wasps
Moths and Butterflies
Bees
Various insects
Miscellaneous: Dioecious

Image
Common names
  • American Holly
  • Christmas Holly
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Ilex opaca
  • Synonym: Ilex opaca var. opaca

Photo Gallery
Location: Fairfax, VA
Location: Western Kentucky
Date: 2014-05-14
Location: Jacksonville, TX
Date: 2013-12-26
Location: Longwood Gardens Conservatory, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, USA
Date: 2019-03-18
Location: Fairfax, VA
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 3-30-2012
Location: Aberdeen, NC
Date: April 24, 2022
American holly #74; RAB page 680, 112-1-1;  LHB page 629, 11-1-4,
Location: Aberdeen, NC
Date: April 24, 2022
American holly #74; RAB page 680, 112-1-1;  LHB page 629, 11-1-4,
Location: Fairfax, VA
Date: 2022-03-28
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-01-31
fruit & leaves
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-01-31
red fruit
Location: Western Kentucky
Date: 2012-10-16
October in zone 7
Location: Jacksonville, TX
Date: 2013-12-26
Location: Jacksonville, TX
Date: 2013-12-26
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Date: January 1, 2022
English holly #18 nn; LHB page 629, 111-1-1, "Ancient Latin for Q
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2021-12-13
two female trees right together
Location: Hiking Trail In Fairfax :-)
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2021-12-13
leaves and some fruit

Date: c. 1865
illustration by H. Redouté from Michaux's 'The North American Sy
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 2015-10-15
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 2011-11-26
Location: My backyard in Allentown, PA
Date: 23 April 2016
A close look at the tip of a branch during bloom on 23 April 2016
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 2011-11-26
Location: National Botanical Garden (DC) | November 2022
Date: 2022-11-26
Location: Chester County, Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-01-11
full-grown trunk
Location: Chester County, Pennsylvania
Date: 2015-01-11
side of female tree
Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Date: 2011-12-30
wild trees in woods
Location: Southern Pines, NC
Date: January 1, 2022
American holly # 74; RAB page 680, 112-1-1); LHB page 629, 11-1-4

Photo courtesy of: Tom Potterfield
Location: Wayne, Pennsylvania
Date: 2009-11-29
full-grown tree
Location: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Date: 2012-01-28
full-grown tree
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2012-01-31
full-grown tree

credit: Pollinator
Location: My backyard in Allentown, PA
Date: 2017-04-23
Up close and personal with the business ends of my holly on 23 Ap

photo credit: Famartin
Photo by robertduval14
Photo by robertduval14
Photo by SongofJoy
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 2011-11-26
Location: Fountain, Florida
Date: 2011-11-26
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2019-05-23
full-grown tree
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2019-05-23
male flowers with stamens
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2019-05-23
male flowers
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2010-01-14
one tree wide, one narrower
This plant is tagged in:
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Comments:
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on May 24, 2019 3:56 PM concerning plant:
    Growing up in the Chicago, Illinois region, I knew of only one American Holly tree that was planted near the administration building of Morton Arboretum in Lisle, that was there from the 1920's into the 1990's, only reaching about 15 feet high. The area with silt-clay loam soils with a pH of about 6.8 to 7.1 the most was not great for this species that is native from central Florida to east Texas to southern Illinois into southern New England. I've seen it thriving in the acid, sandy loam soils of central and southern Delaware in the oak-hickory-beech woods and in some spots in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania. It has been planted a good amount along the East Coast and in the South in average to professional landscapes. It is slow growing of a little less than 1 foot/year. (There is a hybrid of the English Holly x the Chinese Holly, the cultivar of 'Nellie Stevens,' that unfortunately in recent times has often replaced this native species because it grows faster of about 1.5 feet/year, but it does not look as good with a varying amount of irregular growth.) The spiny evergreen leaves of American Holly get about 2 to 4 inches long and are usually medium green and not real shiny. The greenish-white flowers in spring are either all male flowers on each tree with yellow-headed stamens or all female flowers with a big green pistil. The red berries are about 0.3 inches in diameter borne in fall and winter and they are an excellent source of food for birds. The bark is gray and smooth, eventually getting some wartiness. This is a most lovely and high quality broadleaf evergreen tree. Many cultivars have been developed, but I mostly see the mother species around.
  • Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Dec 9, 2012 8:40 AM concerning plant:
    This is a slow growing evergreen here. Both male and female plants are needed to produce the red fruits that are eaten by numerous songbirds.

  • Posted by sallyg (central Maryland - Zone 7b) on Dec 14, 2018 6:21 AM concerning plant:
    Very common in the woods around me, which may be why I regularly find seedlings under my trees in natural, leaf litter areas. Some I have transplanted are now about four feet tall and I hope to see flowers soon to know if they are male or female.
  • Posted by robertduval14 (Milford, New Hampshire - Zone 5b) on Apr 17, 2013 7:14 PM concerning plant:
    Delaware's state tree.
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WebTucker On January 1, 2022 Fruit Ripened
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Discussion Threads about this plant
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Ilex opaca male plant by ViburnumValley Dec 30, 2012 11:58 PM 7

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