North Carolina Wildflowers, Shrubs, & Trees

by Jeffrey S. Pippen | Back to Jeff's Plant Page | Jeff's Nature Pages


Aquifoliaceae > Ilex (holly)

American Holly (Ilex opaca) American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Durham Co., NC
8 Feb 2008

Leaves are evergreen, thick, and tough and usually have a few sharp spine-like teeth (but teeth number varies from 1 to many). Fruits are drupes that ripen in the fall and may persist for months.

American Holly (Ilex opaca) American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Dare Co., NC
7 Nov 2009

American Holly (Ilex opaca) American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Dare Co., NC
7 Nov 2009

This tree on Roanoke Island had an impressive number of fruits!

American Holly (Ilex opaca) American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Durham Co., NC
8 Feb 2008

Growth form is a small to medium tree with smooth but blotchy-looking bark.


Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua)
Chatham Co., NC
17 Sep 2011

Common in mixed forests & edges in the NC Piedmont & Coastal Plain. Leaves are elliptic to obovate (widest at or above the middle), very faintly and shallowly scallop-toothed (crenate) toward the tip, and deciduous.

Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua)
Chatham Co., NC
17 Sep 2011

Flowers appear in the spring and fruits develop over the summer on short shoots off the main branches. Holly fruits are an important food source for birds and mammals.

Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) Possumhaw, Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua)
Chatham Co., NC
17 Sep 2011

Possumhaw is usually a gangly large shrub to small or occasionally medium-sized tree with smooth bark.


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Harnett Co., NC
3 Sep 2006

Fairly common statewide in various moist soil habitats in NC.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Orange Co., NC
15 Oct 2006
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Orange Co., NC
15 Oct 2006

Note the teeth of several species of hollies stick up above the plane of the leaf blade.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Orange Co., NC
15 Oct 2006

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Dare Co., NC
4 Mar 2006

Common in maritime forests along the coast. Also commonly planted throughout the state as a landscape plant. Yaupon Holly is an excellent shrub for wildlife.


Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia) Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia)
Pender Co., NC
23 Apr 2006

Also called Myrtle Holly, this plant is uncommon in wet open areas of the NC Coastal Plain.

Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia) Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia)
Pender Co., NC
13 Oct 2009

Like most hollies, pale flowers appear in spring and fruits develop in fall becoming red by late fall into winter.

Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia) Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia)
Pender Co., NC
13 Oct 2009

Leaves are narrow, untoothed with revolute margins and a bristle tip.

Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia) Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia)
Pender Co., NC
13 Oct 2009

Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia) Myrtle Dahoon (Ilex myrtifolia)
Pender Co., NC
13 Oct 2009

Bark detail.


Mountain Holly (Ilex montana) Mountain Holly (Ilex montana)
Buncombe Co., NC
8 July 2006

Fairly common in the mountains and into the piedmont; occasional in drier habitats in parts of the coastal plain.

Mountain Holly (Ilex montana) Mountain Holly (Ilex montana)
Buncombe Co., NC
8 July 2006

Young fruit

Mountain Holly (Ilex montana) Mountain Holly (Ilex montana)
Buncombe Co., NC
8 July 2006

Bark


Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Brunswick Co., NC
18 May 2008

Common in the NC coastal plain in various, usually moist to wet soil habitats.

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Brunswick Co., NC
13 Aug 2006

When ripe, berries are inky black.

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Craven Co., NC
26 Oct 2007

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Craven Co., NC
26 Oct 2007

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Brunswick Co., NC
13 Aug 2006

Berries are not edible for people but are enjoyed by birds and other mammals.


Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine)
New Hanover Co., NC
23 Sep 2006

Rare in NC, Dahoon Holly grows in acidic soils in the coastal plain along pocosins, swamps, etc.

Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine)
New Hanover Co., NC
23 Sep 2006

Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine)
New Hanover Co., NC
23 Sep 2006

Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine) Dahoon, Dahoon Holly (Ilex cassine)
New Hanover Co., NC
23 Sep 2006


Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea) Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea)
Bladen Co., NC
25 June 2007

Common in the North Carolina coastal plain in pocosins, bays, and other moist habitats. Elliptic leaves are have few but distinctively spaced teeth.

Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea) Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea)
Bladen Co., NC
25 June 2007

Fruits are drupes and ripen in the fall.

Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea) Large Gallberry, Big Gallberry (Ilex coriacea)
Bladen Co., NC
25 June 2007

This species is suspected to be one of the main caterpillar host plants for the delightful, spring-flying Atlantic Holly Azure (Celastrina idella).



Annotated habitat and distribution information listed above is from Radford, Ahles, & Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. UNC Press; and from personal observations and discussions with Will Cook, Harry LeGrand, and Bob Wilbur. Common names from personal experience and supplemented by the following resources USDA plants website, Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, and NatureServe.


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Created on May 7, 2006 | jeffpippen9@gmail.com