Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of United States Botanic Garden.

American holly

Scientific name
Ilex opaca
Plant Family
An evergreen tree native to the eastern United States. Characterized by stiff, dark green, spiny-toothed leaves and bright red fruit. Fruits ripen in October.
Identification Hints

American holly is a densely branched, evergreen tree with horizontal branches that give mature trees a pyramidal shape. Trees usually grow to between 15 and 30 feet. The stiff, spine-tipped, dark green leaves are about 4 inches long and provide a good dense habitat for nesting birds. Unlike the Yaupon Holly, the American Holly leaf spines are spaced at intervals around the entirety of the leaf. Inconspicuous white flowers bloom from April to June; bright red berries appear between September and October and remain on the tree through the winter.

Did You Know?

Only female plants will produce the familiar berries during the fall, but you may not know for a while whether your plant is male or female. American Holly is a slow-growing plant and will take 4 to 7 years to flower after planting. Until the plant flowers and fruits, there is no way to tell if your plant is male or female.