Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr.

  • Family: Aquifoliaceae
  • Common names: Carolina holly, sand holly
  • Synonyms: Ilex buswellii, I. caroliniana, I. montana var. beadlei, I. montana var. mollis, I. beadlei

    Shrub to 4 m (12 ft) tall. Twigs slender, glabrous. Leaves alternate, deciduous, lanceolate or elliptical, 4-8 cm (1.6-3.2 in) long and 1.5-3 cm (0.6-1.2 in) wide, short-pointed, tapering to base, finely to coarsely toothed, dull green and glabrous above, usually densely hairy below. Flowers dioecious, small, 4-petaled, appearing in leaf axils in early Spring. Fruits red drupes about 6 mm (0.25 in) in diameter, with 4 grooved nutlets, ripening in late Summer and persisting into the Winter.

    Distribution: The species is native to the coastal plain of the southeastern U. S.
    NWI status: none
    Habitat: mostly in sandy woods of the coastal plain
    Comment: The fruits are eaten by several species of birds. Ilex is the ancient name of the European holly oak; ambigua refers to its vague similarity to other species.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/10/99
    Go to Oklahoma Biological Survey Home Page