Ilex decidua Walt.

  • Family: Aquifoliaceae
  • Common names: possum haw, deciduous holly, winterberry, Christmas berry
  • Synonyms: Ilex curtissii, I. decidua var. curtissii

    Shrub or small tree to 6 m (20 ft) tall. Bark thin, smooth or warty, gray to light brown. Twigs slender, glabrous, pale gray, with numerous short spur shoots. Leaves alternate, deciduous, mostly clustered on spur shoots, obovate or spoon-shaped, 2.5-7.5 cm (1-3 in) long and 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 in) wide, blunt-pointed, tapering to base, finely wavy-toothed, dull green and glabrous above, paler and hairy along veins below. Flowers dioecious, small, 4-petaled, clustered on ends of spur shoots in early spring. Fruits numerous red drupes about 6 mm (0.25 in) in diameter, with 4 grooved nutlets, clustered along twigs, ripening in late summer and persisting into the winter.

    Distribution: The species is native to the southeastern quarter of the U. S.
    NWI status: FACW-
    Habitat in Oklahoma: usually moist soil near streams.
    Comment: The fruits are eaten by several species of birds. Ilex is the ancient name of the European holly oak; decidua refers to the winter-deciduous habit of the species.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

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