Ilex opaca

American holly


wildlife plant   wildlife plant

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Use this link to get more info about this plant from the USF Institute for Systematic Botany

Plant Specifics

Form: tree
Life Span: long-lived perennial
Size: Height: 40-60 ft    Width: 15-25 ft
Flower Color: flower color      white
Fruit Color: fruit color      red
Phenology: evergreen
Noted for: Showy fruits, hurricane wind resistance, interesting foliage


Recommended Uses: Specimen tree.
Considerations: Sharp spines (teeth) on leaves.
Propagation: Softwood cuttings started in spring. Seeds of most holly species require 2-3 years of dormancy before they will germinate.
Availability: Quality nurseries, Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales, Seed
Light: light requirement   light requirement  
Moisture Tolerance:
Salt Tolerance: Not salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Sand, loam
Soil pH Range: acidic


wildlife plant   wildlife plant  
Fruits predominantly eaten by birds. Pollinated by bees, night-flying moths, other insects.
Native Habitats:

Upland woods, second bottom but will not tolerate long flooding. Often an understory plant.

Documented in Lee County in a site likely to be natural. Documented in Palm Beach County in an urbanizing area where likely to be a garden escape.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida

USDA Zones:

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures

Suitable to grow in:


The wood is pale, tough, close-grained, takes a good polish, and is used for handles, engraving blocks, and cabinet work. It can also be dyed and used as a substitute for ebony. Fruits are poisonous to humans.

Other Comments:

Both male and female plants required for pollination and seed set.