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Ilex opaca

Pronunciation: Eye-lecks oh-pay-kuh
Family: Aquifoliaceae (holly family)
Common Name: American holly
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
  • perennial
Height to: 50'
Width to: 15'-20'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The flowers are tiny with 4-6 creamy-white petals; the male flowers in clusters of 3-9, and the female flowers (on separate trees) in clusters of 1-3. The berries (actually drupes: each seed within the fruit is encased in a stone-like covering) are red (occasionally orange or yellow), about 1/3 in (0. 8 cm) in diameter and persist into the winter until hungry songbirds find them.
Soil Type: Clay; loam; sand; slightly alkaline; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained
  • No
Plant Perks:
  • Salt Tolerant
  • Drought Tolerant
Propagation: The species can be propagated by seeds, but they require extensive pre-treatment to bring them out of dormancy. Germination normally takes from 16 months to 3 years! Fortunately, holly is fairly easy to start from cuttings, and of course, the named cultivars must be started from cuttings. Best results come from semi-hard twig tips taken in summer or early autumn.
Native to: North america
Notes for Identification:

American holly is usually used as a specimen tree or in small groupings. Since it is dioecious (takes two to tango), it's necessary to plant male and female trees to get berries. One male is enough for several females. American holly is slow-growing, but long-lived. The stately american holly is at its best as a group of evergreen pyramids near the back of the landscape

a caterpillar host plant for: the holly blue  and henry's elfin

Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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