The American Holly (llex opaca) is a native to the United States being a part of the aquifoliaceae (holly) family. They are rare in the north and always small, but abundant in the south coast and Gulf States. As seen many times, this plant is very popular for Christmas decoration in churches and at homes. It does grow in all 50 states none the less, and is the state tree of Delaware. In the eastern states they are well liked for their foliage and berries, and are the only native North American Holly that grows to tree size. It was actually noticed by the pilgrims one week before Christmas in 1620 on the coast of Massachusetts.
The American Holly is a slow grower of only 6 inches or so per year, and tends to grow even slower in dry swampy soil. Light gray coloring covers the bark with rough lumps, and has stout green branches attached that are covered with a somewhat rusty looking down substance and turns smooth and brown later on. They are short and thin in size, with thick meaty roots. Winter buds that grow are short and acute while in the late spring the flowers are a greenish-white color. The flower stem is covered by little hairs and has separate male and female parts. Males have 4 stamens on the base of the corolla with attached anthers on the back, and have an oblong shape. One male can pollinate a number of females. While a females pistil has a superior ovary, 4 cells, and 1-2 ovules in each cell it contains. The females are responsible for the production of the red berries which are also called drupe, and they grow 6-12 mm with 4 seeds contained inside.
The leaves are in an alternating pattern and can grow to be 5-7.5 cm long and 2-4 cm in width. They are attached for 2-3 years until forced off by new bud growth which are yellow stiff leaves. The flowers are pollinated by many insects such as bees, wasps, ants, and moths. Even though the insects and mammals eat the berries, it would be bad for us since they would be poisonous. Birds like the thrush, mockingbird and bluebirds devour them, and the mammals being raccoon and deer that also use them as a source for food. Birds are also responsible for the propagation of these plants due to them carrying the seeds to many new areas. The thick canopy contained at the top, provides a shelter and homes for many birds from predators and storms alike. This tree can come in all sizes ranging from dwarf to 6 inches to 70 feet in height.
We have The American Holly at the TN Nursery for a low wholesale price. We also have many other products such as trees, shrubs, berry plants, perennials, and vines. There is so much more but you will have to come to find out for yourself. We have another site dedicated to native plants, such as shrubs, grass, and trees. Those are at www.wetlands.com. Come create your landscape with us.