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American Holly / Ilex opaca
Family: Holly / Aquifoliaceae
Characteristics: American Holly is a broadleaf evergreen tree with medium-coarse texture and a moderate growth rate. Distinctly pyramidal when young, it becomes more open and irregular with age. Leaves are alternate, evergreen, 1 ½ to 4 inches long and half as wide, with spiny teeth along their margins. Bright red fruit persist through winter and are eaten by birds. Native seedlings are appropriate for restoration projects.
Landscape uses: Use American Holly for screening or as a specimen tree. It prefers deep, fertile soils with adequate moisture and partial shade. It will adapt to full sun.
Size: 20 to 50 feet high and 15 to 30 feet wide
Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
Habitat: Moist sites, flood plains and lower slopes. It also can be found in mixed hardwood forests. Occasionally found on dry, sandy sites in south Georgia.
Native to: Massachusetts to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas.
Comments: The foliage is traditionally cut (along with berries) for Christmas decorations, and sometimes used as an outdoor Christmas tree. Fruit are enjoyed by cedar waxwings, cardinals, and other birds.