Ilex opaca

Photographs belong to the photographers who allow use for FNPS purposes only. Please contact the photographer for all other uses.

American Holly


Plant Specifics

Size:40-60 ft tall by 15-25 ft wide
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:Red
Phenology:Evergreen. Blooms in spring. Fruits ripen in fall and persist into winter.
Noted for:Showy fruits, Interesting foliage, Hurricane wind resistance


Recommended Uses:Specimen tree.  Screen.  
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:Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales, Quality nurseries, Seed
Light: Part Shade,  Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Somewhat long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Usually moist, occasional inundation ----- to ----- Somewhat long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray
Soil or other substrate:Loam, Sand
Soil pH:Acidic to neutral



Fruits are eaten by birds.


Bees pollinate flowers. 

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

Suitable to grow in:
10A 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


Ethnobotany: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.
General Comments:

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