American Holly

Ilex opaca

American Holly Ilex opaca is an evergreen tree (60’ – 30’ X 12’) that occurs primarily in the understory of moist woods, swamps, and along streams of North and Southwest Louisiana and in the Florida Parishes. It has dark green, spine-tipped leaves and a smooth, light-gray trunk. American Holly flowers March – June. It grows best in well-drained, acidic, sandy or loamy soils; it performs poorly in clay soils.

Like other native hollies, it provides a rich supply of fruit in Winter for birds such as Cedar Waxwing, Rufous-sided Towhee, American Robin, and Red-bellied Woodpecker. It is the host plant for caterpillars of Henry’s Elfin butterfly. Use it in landscaping as a screen, a specimen tree, or in a mass planting.

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