The American Holly

american holly tree

Holly is a popular Christmas and Winter holiday season decoration. In English poetry and English stories, the holly is inseparably connected with the merry-making and greetings which gather around the Christmas time. But this tree offers much more. It lends its unique beauty to the landscape all year long and provides shelter and food for birds.

The American holly, Ilex opaca, is a species of holly, native to the eastern and south-central United States. It is a medium-sized broad-leaved evergreen tree with alternate leaves that are stiff, green and often pale yellow beneath. The edges are curved with several spike-like points. The petiole is short with a pair of minute stipules. The leaves remain on the branches for two to three years, finally falling in the spring. The sexes are separate with the female tree producing those beautify red berries.

The American holly is often cultivated by plant nurseries for use as an evergreen ornamental plant. It is planted as a shrub or as a slower growing ornamental tree with over 1,000 cultivars available.

If you are interested in growing holly please remember these facts and choose a suitable location. The American holly grows to a height of 40–50′ and a spread of 18–40′ at maturity. This tree grows at a slow to medium rate, with height increases of anywhere from less than 12″ to 24″ per year. Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

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