Virginia Tech Dendrology

American holly Aquifoliaceae Ilex opaca Aiton Listen to the Latin play symbol: ILOP
Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, elliptical, 2 to 4 inches long, spiny toothed margin, thickened and leathery, shiny dark green above, much paler below.
Flower: Species is dioecious; dull green-white, male flowers on 3 to 7 flowered cymes, female flowers are solitary with a pleasant odor, appearing in late spring.
Fruit: Berry-like drupe, red, rarely yellow when ripe, 1/4 inch in diameter, containing ribbed nutlets; maturing in fall and persisting on tree into winter.
Twig: Slender, with rust-colored pubescence; buds small reddish brown, pointed.
Bark: Light gray and smooth regardless of size.
Form: A small tree to 40 feet, with a thick crown and pyramidal form, usually with branches to the ground.
Looks like: large gallberry - Foster's holly - Chinese holly - dahoon
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Ilex opaca is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting American holly.
External Links: USDAFS Silvics of North America - USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson