Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Ilex opaca

Leaves are simple, alternate, leathery, stiff, and evergreen with sharp spines on the leaf margin. Twigs are gray-white and smooth. Bark is light gray and smooth. Fruit is an orange-red drupe found on female trees. Form is up to 15 m (50 ft) in height. American holly is found in mesic forests in the southeastern U.S. and is very shade tolerant. The white, hard wood is used for specialty items such as piano keys. The fruit is eaten by birds and animals. A popular ornamental.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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