Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Ilex opaca Soland. in Ait.
- Family: Holly (Aquifoliaceae)
- Flowering: May-June
- Field Marks: This tree is readily recognized by its prickly-edged, evergreen, leathery leaves.
- Habitat: Moist woods.
- Habit: Tree to 60 feet tall, with a trunk diameter up to 2 1/2 feet; bark light gray, pebbly.
- Twigs: Pale brown, minutely hairy when young, becoming smooth; buds round-tipped or pointed, with brown, hairy scales.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, evergreen, leathery, oval to elliptic, spiny toothed, dark green above, paler below, up to 4 inches long, up to 2 inches wide.
- Flowers: Male and female borne separately, usually on separate trees, the male 3-10 in a stalked cluster, the female usually solitary.
- Sepals: 4, green, united below.
- Petals: 4, greenish white, free from each other.
- Stamens: 4.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, smooth.
- Fruits: Drupes red, spherical, up to 1/2 inch in diameter, persisting throughout the winter.
- Notes: The leaves and berries are used for Christmas decorations. The plant is grown extensively as an ornamental. The wood can be used to make furniture.
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