Ilex opaca Ait.

  • Family: Aquifoliaceae
  • Common name: American holly

    Evergreen tree to 15 m (50 ft ) tall and 30 cm (1 ft) diameter. Bark thin, light gray, usually smooth. Twigs slender, light brown to gray, hairy when young. Leaves alternate, evergreen, elliptical, 5-7.5 cm (2-3 in) long and 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) wide, sharp-pointed, rounded at base, coarsely spiny-toothed, thick, stiff, leathery, shiny green and glabrous above, yellow-green below. Flowers dioecious, small, 4-petaled, few or single at base of new leaves in early Spring. Fruits red drupes about 6-10 mm (0.3-0.6 in) in diameter, with 4 grooved nutlets, scattered along twigs, ripening in late Summer and persisting into the Winter.

    Distribution: The species is native to about the southeastern quarter of the United States.
    Habitat in Oklahoma: near streams in the southeastern corner of the state.
    NWI status: FACU
    Comment: The fruits are eaten by several species of birds. Ilex is the ancient name of the European holly oak; opaca refers to the dull green color of the leaves.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

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